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How to manage Grief

Updated on March 2, 2013
brightforyou profile image

Retired counselor, 341 short stories published by FSU. I have 4 sons, love sharing photography, writing, love travel, sunshine, sea & Grace.

Losing someone special comes to all of us at one time or another in our lives. How we handle the passing is dependent on many factors.

Some such factors are, how the person died; (after a long illness or suddenly); the age of the person, the circumstances of their death, and the influence that person had on your life, etc.

Grief is not something to gloss over or have a 'stiff upper lip' about. It's a normal and natural reaction to loss. Grief can lead to depression if it isn't dealt with: There is a process which helps to know about and to observe. Most people have heard of the 5 stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.

Grief is individual: For example, in the case of someone who has bravely born a long and painful illness, there is an initial sense of relief for the carer and family.

The stages of grief have been occuring already in the life of that family: the denial stage came with the diagnosis, the anger at witnessing the pain and suffering, the bargaining with doctors and treatments (and the second-guessing decisions made ). Depression follows when it is realized the illness is indeed, terminal, (regardless of which doctors/treatments/life-style is chosen ). Acceptance is often easier for the loved ones in the case of this long-term suffering, but the soul and hearts are still vulnerable and sore and needs some peace to heal.

For those who suffer the loss of a young adult, child, or by some injustice, the stages are much more pronounced. The pain can be unbearable and the need for justice a life-long quest to assuage the agony. The rage can be all-consuming along with reliving the loved ones suffering or lost opportunities. This grief needs action because these people often feel like they may explode with rage and despair...or conversely feel completely numb. In these situations, therapy and counseling are essential to recovery and healing.

Getting beyond grief therefore is unique to your situation and has to be addressed. Here are some simple (but effective) ways to help you get some peace .. remember, you won't feel like doing any of just fake it until you make it:

1. Thank God/Life/the Universe (whatever your belief system is) for the time you had together.

2. Be at peace with death as a natural process, however unfair and however painful, it is outside of your control...

3. Survivor guilt (or guilt for not having been able to protect your loved one )...pulls you down and keeps you in pain. It helps to see life as a gift that we didn't ask for; we don't know how long we have or each person's purpose; so it isn't for us to judge or try to control: This will help you forgive yourself. Whatever happened; it really wasn't your fault.

4. Yesterday is gone. Remembering things you said that were unkind, or holding onto how they suffered, is only going to cause you more pain: let it go... let it go... and put a note on your refrigerator/computer/bathroom.... to keep on taking deep breaths.

5. Don't stay alone. Get out. Accept invitations~ you may not want to, and you may be ashamed of how you look/feel/think..perhaps fearful that you may break down. Allow yourself to trust others; they need you too and they want to help. Take small steps, write letters, ask for help.. have a bubble bath/walk/talk to someone.

6. Let people in..eventually you will begin to care about others again, but right now you are lost and confused. They can guide you just by their presence. It doesn't matter that you are not 'yourself.'

7. Get out and look at nature. Listen to music. Cry when you need to. Laugh about the fun things you shared... talk about your loved one.

8. Plan a trip for the future - real or imaginary.

9. Don't feel guilty if you get happy.. its okay to be alive.. you didn't die and that's okay too!

10. Until we know, we are all in the dark doing the best we can.. it may be of some comfort to know that living in the "now" allows us freedom from analzying yesterday (and all its emotion) and dreading tomorrow (with all its fears). Today is all we have: give into it. Let it surprise you.

Its not easy to keep things simple because of our thoughts. So, turn them off for a while.. through your senses: Feel the sun/fresh air/rain/snow on your skin. Smell the air/flowers/cars/cooking...Look all around you as if for the first time... reach out and touch someone/something.. listen to the message within a silence and let the music of life sooth you..enjoy your favorite foods or try a new dish.

Relax. Its okay. You're going to get through this!

How do you deal with grief or loss in your life?

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    • brightforyou profile imageAUTHOR

      Helen Lewis 

      5 years ago from Florida

      Hi Kathi, it would seem we have been going through a similar experience with grief and loss. Thank you so much for your kind words. nature and the senses help bring us in to the present moment and keep us centered. I so appreciate your beautiful hubs! xx Blessings, Helen xx

    • Fossillady profile image


      5 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      BFY . . . wonderful advise. . .I agree with all of it and find it most helpful. The part about let go of your thoughts whenever its possible and get into your senses is perfect. Nature will help heal! Thank you for sharing your wisdom! Hugs, Kathi

    • brightforyou profile imageAUTHOR

      Helen Lewis 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Hi CSPublishing, thank you so much for sharing and for your eloqence. I love your description of the circles within the circles of life. I am so sorry for your loss; I too have been recently bereaved and so it helped to write the hub. In the end, all of us need to reach acceptance of life on life's terms; the good, the bad and the ugly experiences all have their own reasons and rhyms. Thank you for this lovely addition to the hub and for helping me move on. Helen :-)

    • chspublish profile image


      6 years ago from Ireland

      Thanks for your hub. It helps to read others' ideas on grief. We're all so different and yet the same. We can gather together to help each other or we can get through the grieving process alone, to heal the wounds of loss and reach that place of acceptance, that place of knowing all is well with the universe and life.

      Thanks for the sharing.

      As I go through the stages of the recent loss of a beloved parent - who lived a long time - I can track how I feel at different stages. It helps when I can share with others who have equally lost a parent. That kind of sharing really draws us together as humans and we can appreciate the fine tuning of our feelings and the commonality of our humanity. It's a both a release and a joy. It's a real soul sharing experience.

      We have so much to give of ourselves and so much to be glad about - even in the midst of great loss. It's like a circle. We start at one point - the loss- and then travel through many points on the circumference and eventually come to what looks like an end point - the acceptance - only to realise we're on another circular journey - the joy of life itself, now more keenly felt by the initial loss.

    • brightforyou profile imageAUTHOR

      Helen Lewis 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Thanks for reading my hub and your kind comments LL :-)

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma City

      As you've explained, grief is a natural part of living. Learning how to deal with it, experience it, and move through it are, I believe, an important part of the human experience.

      You've provided helpful information here.


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