Let's Talk About Grief
”Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” – Vicki Harrison
Reading this quote, I immediately thought of my experience with grief recently and how it is ever changing. For me, my grandmother was recently diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia and I found myself beginning to grieve someone who was still alive. Grief is one of those things that is different from person to person and changes as time goes on. Did you know that grief doesn't strictly apply to the loss of a loved one? You can also grieve the loss of a job, a relationship, your health, among many other things.
Grief is something that all of us will experience at some point, no matter how hard we try to avoid it. So, since grief is inevitable, how do we cope with it? Below I have listed five ways to help you cope with grief.
1. Acknowledge And Accept Your Feelings
As a therapist I often tell my clients that "all feelings are okay" and this statement remains true when dealing with grief. When grieving it is likely that you will experience a variety of emotions such as, sadness, anger, guilt, and fear. These emotions are all a part of the healing process and acknowledging and accepting them makes the healing easier in the long run. When we bottle our feelings or try to ignore them we deny ourselves the opportunity to fully heal. We as humans have emotions for a reason and it is important to acknowledge and accept them for what they are, without embarrassment or judgement.
2. Know That Grief Looks Different For Everyone
It has long been thought that grief is a structured process. That long held idea of grief flowing through structured stages is often FALSE! As I said before, grief often looks different from person to person and there is no textbook that can give written instructions for what grief should look like. Some people may cry during the grieving process and others may not shed a tear. This does not mean that one is grieving more than the other, it just simply looks different.
3. You May Never "Get Over It" And That Is OK
Just because someone is no longer with us in the physical world, doesn't mean that we stop caring for them and want to forget them. It is ok to miss someone who has passed. Remember that your grief is your own and it is no one else's job to tell you when it is time to move forward.
4. Engage In A Ritual
By engaging in a simple ritual you keep the memories of what you lost alive in your heart. This can be as simple as lighting a candle for a lost loved one each evening. Or visiting a grave site with a special flower every other Saturday. Engaging in a ritual helps change the relationship from a physical worldly one to a more spiritual one.
5. Seek Professional Help
If your grief has become too much for you to handle, reach out to a professional that specializes in grief counseling in your area.
It is clear that grief is a part of the human experience. This list is not all encompassing and different approaches work for different people. I would love to hear your thoughts on coping with grief and what has worked best for you!
Courtney Liester, MS, LMHP