How to Cope with Grief
Coping with grief is an intricate and deeply personal journey that every individual navigates in their own unique way. At its core, grief is a profound emotional response to loss, whether it be the death of a loved one, the end of a significant relationship, or any other life-altering change. While grief is a universal experience, the path to healing and acceptance varies widely from person to person.
In this article, we will delve into practical strategies, insights, and resources designed to guide you through the multifaceted process of grieving. Whether you are currently grappling with loss or seeking to support someone who is, understanding the complexities of grief and employing effective coping mechanisms can foster resilience, growth, and eventual renewal.
How People Cope with Grief
Grief manifests in a wide range of ways, and everyone reacts to it a little differently. To deal with the overwhelming experience of bereavement, we tend to seek coping mechanisms that help us navigate the emotional turbulence. But while some coping strategies promote healing and growth, others may inadvertently prolong or exacerbate the grieving process, so it’s important to be mindful of how we are dealing with our feelings.
Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms
Unhealthy coping mechanisms often involve avoidance, suppression, or reliance on substances as temporary solutions. They tend to exacerbate emotional distress, hinder healing, and create additional challenges by masking feelings and embracing isolation.
Healthy Coping Mechanisms
Healthy coping mechanisms generally prioritize the acknowledgment and processing of your emotions, reliance on support networks, and nurturing overall well-being through self-care practices and professional guidance. These coping mechanisms emphasize proactive engagement with our feelings and encourage us to seek external support and maintain physical and mental health.
Coping with Grief by Celebrating Life
Going through grief can feel quite foreign. By being mindful of our senses, we can become more grounded through the process and listen to what our body, mind, and soul need.
Next time your feelings become too much, take a deep breath and focus on the present moment. What does the air smell like? What colors can you see? What do you hear? Take the time to slowly chewy your food and taste every bite. What does the soft blanket feel like on your skin?
While grief is very challenging, it is also an opportunity for growth. Finding new ways to connect with yourself in this new normal is extremely important. One way to do this is to practice meditation.
Guided meditations like the ones on free apps like InsightTimer are great places to start. There are plenty of different types of meditation and it may take a bit of trial and error to figure out what works well for you. InsightTimer even has an entire meditation topic dedicated to grief.
Talk about the loved one you lost
Opening up and discussing your feelings after experiencing a significant loss is pivotal for multiple reasons. Firstly, it allows you to legitimize your grief and pain. Talking with friends and family ensures that you feel understood and acknowledged and provides a supportive network of emotional and psychological support. This can help us not feel so isolated and alone. It also helps you process your emotions and memories associated with the departed with others who may be sharing those same feelings.
Sharing stories, memories, and experiences about the deceased helps celebrate their life and legacy rather than only focusing on their death. Through the process of shared grief and mutual support, relationships deepen and a collective resilience emerges, forging bonds of unity, understanding, and solidarity that can help us get through the pain of loss.
Write or paint
Some people write letters to their loved ones, giving them updates about their lives, while others write just to express what it is they’re feeling. Writing is a creative and expressive process that can help us order our thoughts and get in touch with the complexities of our emotions.
“On the most pragmatic level, many people who struggle with grief feel bad because they weren’t able to say everything they wanted or needed to their loved one. Many of them find it cathartic to write a letter to their deceased loved one, detailing all of their feelings, memories, and gratitude for them. Some choose to keep the note, while others burn it to send the words to the heavens. Regardless, expressing your feelings verbally or in writing is the most direct way to help you heal.” -Dr. Ryan Howes
If you don’t have the words or don’t feel like writing, try embracing other forms of expression., Painting or drawing can also be a wonderful way for you to express what it is you’re going through and what your loved one meant to you.
Listen to music
Sometimes people want to listen to their loved one’s favorite songs and think of the memories, while others may just want to listen to songs that match the emotions of the grief they’re going through.
Music is therapeutic and has been a tool used for healing for centuries. So don’t be shy to put on a record and dance around the house.
While exercise can sometimes be a way to escape the pain, it can also be very restorative. Gentle walks, hikes in the woods, and bike rides may be a good place to start as you build your strength. Physical and mental health are often more closely connected than we realize, and working out your body can help reenergize your spirit.
Did your loved one enjoy exercise? Maybe you can try an exercise they enjoyed to feel connected with them while also doing something good for yourself.
Cook and eat healthy
In addition to exercise, taking care of your body by paying attention to what you are putting in it is another way to restore your physical and mental well-being. Maintaining a balanced diet provides essential nutrients that support your overall physical health, ensuring that your body receives the necessary vitamins, minerals, and energy to cope with stress and emotional upheaval.
Nutrient-dense foods bolster your immune system, enhance energy levels, and promote optimal functioning, which can help reduce the possibility of potential health complications that can arise from weakened immunity or fatigue.
Grief can be very isolating and difficult to take on by ourselves.
“Asking for help while grieving is an unfortunately counter-cultural act in our society today. People expect us to move on quickly and return to work and social functions at lightning speed, in comparison with other cultures presently and historically. There is no pre-set timeline for grief, and everyone grieves differently, so give yourself permission to take time and reach out to friends and family as much as you need as you attempt to feel and deal. If you find that the grief is still incapacitating you a couple of months after your loss, and you are having difficulty seeing light at the end of the tunnel, know that there are many therapists and grief support groups around to help you process your loss and move forward.” -Dr. Ryan Howes
Some people find local grief groups helpful, as they give you a space to talk about your loved one with others who are also going through grief. While others prefer a more personalized grief treatment program or grief therapist.
Oftentimes when a loved one passes, we may feel a void of connection. By giving back to an organization that’s close to you or your loved one’s heart, you can begin making positive change in the world in honor of your loved one.
Whether it’s volunteering at a local farm, being a mentor for someone who needs it, or feeding the hungry, you can transform your pain into something constructive for your neighborhood.
Start Coping with Your Grief Today
In navigating the grief journey, understanding and implementing effective coping mechanisms is critical. Healthy practices can encourage healing, inspire resilience, and give us the tools to accept what we can’t control and transform our grief into a path toward improving our lives and honoring our loved ones.
By recognizing the complex nature of grief and adopting constructive strategies that work for us, we can navigate loss with grace, strength, and compassion. While grief remains a deeply personal journey, it starts with finding healthy coping mechanisms that empower you to honor your emotions, forge meaningful connections with your community, and cultivate a renewed sense of purpose and hope in your life.
The Eterneva team is committed to sharing real stories that help celebrate the remarkable lives of loved ones who have passed and have started their new journey as memorial diamonds. These real stories are here to help heal, connect one another, spark joy, inspire gratitude, and move us forward together.