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How to Deal with Grief - by spryte

Updated on July 23, 2008

Grief is an overwhelming emotion for most people. Actually, I'd like to meet the few that haven't been swallowed up by it at some point in their lives...either they are very lucky...or God is planning something really big.

I think I'm pretty average when it comes to the amount of grief I've had to deal with...there have been some really bad times...and then not so bad times. Of course the good times are always the ones that are remembered...and I have a lot of those. How I've dealt with this grief though I think is different from a lot of people. Well, different enough that I hope by sharing might make somebody else's grief a little more bearable.

We've all heard that grief comes in five stages...denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. I say...that's crap. Let's face it, when dear ol' Rover is laying out flat with tread marks across his fur...denial is going to be a really hard thing to maintain.

Sorry...I promised myself I'd be serious writing this...and already I stray into my usual morbid sense of humor.

I'm not sure how many examples I'm going to produce...I'm shooting from the hip at the moment. So let's just start and see how many we end up with...

Spryte's Suggestions for Grieving

  • Cry - You may be a quiet tear or two type, a melodramatic sobber, or the heartbreaking mourner with tears that rip the soul apart. It doesn't just matter that you do. If you feel you make others uncomfortable with your tears...find a place to do it alone. Tears do not need an audience to be effective.
  • Remember - all of it. Live it every day so it doesn't have a chance to heal over too quickly and fester. Humans have a tendency to shy away from things that are painful. We don't want to think about it, talk about it...or perhaps we are expected to be the "strong one" during the time of crisis. But the only way past grief is to breathe it in, let it take up residence in the guest room for a while. It hurts...and for those of you who've been know the type of hurt I'm talking about. It'll help you with the crying part too. You'll do a lot of that at first.
  • Laugh - it's okay to laugh, y'know? Nobody will think it's sacrilegious for you to have found momentary joy. They may want you to share what made you laugh...or they may be slightly uneasy if it's a deranged laugh, so try to avoid that type of laugh if you can. Think of it this way...we know that a day is never idealistically picture perfect, right? There's usually at least one small thing that goes wrong and upsets us. So how can we expect that any day could be 100% miserable? will make you feel good.
  • Do something nice - I know this sounds a little strange...after all YOU are suffering here, the rest of the world can just get out of your face. Trust me on this one. One of the things I did when I lost my son a week before Christmas, was bake cookies and deliver them to the hospital staff that had been there that night. I had every right to sit at home and wallow in my misery. Nobody would have denied me that. But that staff really did take such good care of us...and I wanted them to know that. Yeah...they thought I was a bit daft at first, but the cookies and conversation were enjoyed by all of us. It made me feel good...not necessarily about myself or what I'd done...but good because it forced me think outside myself.
  • Run Away - but not for a long period of time. There comes a time when you will be exhausted by all the people you've had to comfort as they offered condolences. How are you supposed to grieve when you are too busy taking care of other people and soothing their feelings? Hmm? That's when it's time to pack up and head to a place where nobody knows you. You don't have to do this alone...but I find it's better if you only invite other people that are grieving at the same level as yourself. Go to the the sun rise. Watch it set. Understand this means that life goes on and no matter what you've lost, it's your bittersweet luck to be the one to have to move on. Don't be afraid to laugh and cry...maybe at the same time...these people don't know you and chances are you'll never see them again. They may avoid you...pull their children closer to them as they make a wide arc to avoid you...but who cares?
  • Dispose of everything but what is meaningful - And by this I only mean when you are ready. Pick a few things that have special memories tied to them and keep them. Have a friend either sell or dispose of the rest. Trust me on do NOT want to do it yourself. You will only hate the people that buy your stuff...and that's a bit counterproductive. If what you've saved is an item that might still be useful to somebody else...give it away gradually. Find a person that you think worthy of such a gift...and then tell them why it's important to you. There's no expiration date on this...I still have "things" that I haven't given away yet.
  • Write - It doesn't have to be a best-selling novel. It doesn't' have to be spellchecked for errors. Writing is simply a way of expressing yourself and a lot of the time it has a natural cathartic side effect.
  • Do not even think about using a chemical crutch - It hurts...suck it up. It's going to hurt worse when you come out of an alcoholic stupor. It hasn't gone away just because you discovered Prozac. If you think that you can escape into a nice little fuzzy warm can. But eventually you have to come out...or let your grief destroy you. Which leads to my last one...
  • Get angry - It's a clean emotion that sometimes can kick start a person into action. Just make sure you don't get angry all over somebody's face...use a pillow or something with a little give. Yell, scream...whatever you want. I find screaming in the middle of a traffic jam with my windows rolled up to be very effective. Nobody even looks twice...they figure it's just PMS induced road rage and move over a couple of lanes.

Anyway...I hope these spritely suggestions are taken in the spirit given. But if not, then perhaps a small chuckle or groan of dismay? I'm a terrible advice!



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    • brightforyou profile image

      Helen 5 years ago from Florida

      Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      Ann Henderson 6 years ago

      Thank you so much for this very useful info. It has helped me more than you can know.


    • profile image

      peter lee duff 7 years ago

      Thank you very much for sharing these ideas, I really appreciate it.

    • britneydavidson profile image

      britneydavidson 9 years ago from united kingdom

      nice hub....great information....really loved to read it.thanx for sharing

    • spryte profile image

      spryte 9 years ago from Arizona, USA

      Interesting that you should say that made me remember a comparison I once had. When everything becomes too overwhelming emotionally...I picture myself as a circuit breaker, with ever circuit tripped. One by one, I flip the switches back on...mindful that I have to be careful not to cause another overload.... :)

      I seem to bypass denial completely when it comes to stages of grief...I don't know why, perhaps I'm a closet realist or pessimist...hard to believe. Oddly enough though, my first night back home after my mother's death, I had the most horrible nightmare. In it, I dreamt my mother was still alive...and my brother and sisters knew it. Why had they ostracised me...treated me like an outcast...keeping this secret from me? They were angry at me...that was the only explanation I could come up with. In my dream I smashed everything within reach...some things broke and shattered in a very satisfactory manner...and others refused to break despite repeated pummeling. Subconscious denial...I'd never had that happen before.

      Those kids were all very lucky to have you there to guide them through those tough times. I've seen too many adults that weren't so's heartbreaking.

    • marisuewrites profile image

      marisuewrites 9 years ago from USA

      I deny the pain.  It's a matter of coping,  then, when I chunk it up, I deal with little pieces, thus throwing me into acceptance.  Grieving, the process, bounces us back and forth like a volleyball, we often re-visit the stages, with varying intensity.  While the stages are predictable, the level of intensity and time within each stage varies with the individual, and is affected greatly by gender, support, and personal experiences.

      Not an easy thing, grief.  Thank you for allowing us into your coping skills and sharing your journey. 

      Running away actually, is a form of both bargaining and denial.  It's all okay, as long as you come back.  =)  after having seen over 250+ kids in my home deal with pieces of grief, I've seen many get stuck in a stage; it was our job to gently nudge them on.

      They kicked back.   

      thumbs up, by the way!!

    • spryte profile image

      spryte 9 years ago from Arizona, USA

      Thanks talented! As a fan of your work, having you say something like that means a great deal.


    • talented_ink profile image

      talented_ink 9 years ago from USA

      You made a list so perfect on how to handle grief that I can't see anything to add or take away. The biggest thing I will say is that no matter how grief is dealt with, it has to be dealt with(hopefully in a positive way) or else it will do to a person what strong acids can do to wood.

    • spryte profile image

      spryte 9 years ago from Arizona, USA

      Or "that which doesn't kill me makes me stronger"...but then again, sometimes you wonder why it didn't kill you.

      *hugs* Zu

    • profile image

      Zuma 9 years ago

      Also, don't forget to tell yourself that "even this one will pass".

      Time will heal, most of the wounds. That knowledge alone will sometimes help.

    • spryte profile image

      spryte 9 years ago from Arizona, USA

      Like you, I love to read and can get lost in a novel for hours on end. I think I convinced myself that the experience was so pleaurable, surely it must be a drug just as powerful as alcohol...and so I've always avoided it when grief grabs a hold of me. :)

      But you are 100% right...everyone finds their own way to deal with grief. It's not for us to judge a person...whether they are grieving correctly, incorrectly, or for a socially respectable period of time.

      Thanks for your comments and the heads up on Ms. Palucci's book. I'll have to look it up!

    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 9 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      I think you're right, spryte. We deal with grief in whatever way we can. Laugh, cry, yell, scream, sulk, go shopping or read a good book. Personally, I found reading books to be a very effective way of getting outside myself. Wrapping your mind around a story, real or fiction, keeps negative thoughts from taking over. My friend, Linda Palucci, wrote an ebook about the way she tried to cope with grief. It's called "Out of the Slippery Pit." Just this week I wrote a hub about it. All of us have, or will, face the problem, and your hub definitely helps.

    • spryte profile image

      spryte 9 years ago from Arizona, USA

      Well...I've never bargained either. :P

    • profile image

      Ananta65 9 years ago

      I only feel sorry that denial had disappeared from the list ;)