If you’re reading this, it’s likely you are looking for ways to cope with a recent loss. It could be the loss of a parent, a close friend, a long-loved pet, a job you loved or a relationship that has ended. Remember that there are many types of grief. Grieving the loss of something that was very important to you is a perfectly natural response and your feelings are valid.
Here are our 10 practical suggestions that can help you to cope with grief.
1. Your initial reaction
It’s impossible to know how you will react to your loss and everyone reacts differently. Remember that there is no right or wrong way to react, only healthy and unhealthy ways to cope with grief. The most important thing is to not isolate yourself or shut off from your loved ones. Wanting time to yourself is perfectly fine, but try not to isolate yourself for too long.
2. Remember your loved ones
If a family member or close friend of a friendship group has passed away, it’s likely your other family members and friends will also be grieving the loss. Grief is a time when the support of those close to you is more important than ever. Remember to support each other during this time. While you will all be experiencing grief, everyone will be coping and expressing it in different ways.
3. Be silent with a friend
Often people who are grieving don’t want to be alone but also don’t want to participate in conversation and small talk. If this is you, try to find a friend who is happy to spend time with you but accepts you don’t want to do much talking. You could go on a walk together, cook a meal, take a nap or go on a long silent drive.
4. It won’t feel like this forever
When you’re experiencing grief, it might feel like it will go on forever. During this time, try to remember that up until now, your track record of getting through tough times is 100%. And that’s exceptional. So let yourself feel whatever it is that you are feeling and know that it won’t last forever.
5. Be gentle with yourself
Grief is emotionally exhausting. Make time for lots of naps, ensure you’re eating nourishing foods and drinking plenty of water. Alcohol and sugar may seem like quick fixes but they are quite the opposite.
6. Think in cycles not in lines
You may one day begin to think you’re starting to feel better and then it all comes crashing down again. This is common and perfectly natural. Humans are complicated and our minds and emotions don’t work in perfectly linear ways. If this is you, remember that grief is a series of loops. You may naturally circle back to where you were some time ago, and that’s fine. Let yourself feel your feelings.
7. You can handle it even if you think you can’t
It’s human nature to want to avoid emotional and physical pain. At times it may feel like you can’t handle what’s happened, but you can. We only learn about our capacity to handle difficult times when we experience them.
8. Complicated grief
Grief can be one of the most painful experiences you ever go through. Despite this, it is a normal part of life. Some people however need a little more help during their grief than others. It can be hard to know what is normal. But not acknowledging your feelings during grief in particular is something that can lead to problems, sometimes even physical effects.
If you think you might be experiencing complicated grief, or someone you know is, it’s important to contact a doctor or GP and seek professional help.
9. Everyone is different
Everyone is different. Grief isn’t something you suddenly get over one day. Most people slowly accept the loss over months or even years. The first Christmas or birthday after a loved one’s death can be particularly upsetting. It’s important to remember this as you go through your own journey and find your own way to accept this change in your life.
10. How can you help yourself while grieving
Don’t fight off your feelings, allow your thoughts and feelings to pass through you naturally.
Talk to people you trust and be honest about how you’re feeling and doing.
Remember to take care of yourself. Eating well, doing light exercise and enough sleep will only contribute towards making you feel better during this time.
Be patient, grieving is a process and a journey and everyone is different.
Some people find it helpful to join a local support group and talk to others who are likely to understand how they are feeling.