How to Handle Grief
Grief is No Walk in the Park
Losing a loved one is one of the hardest parts of life. It can take a physical, mental, and emotional toll on you. Depending on how long you knew the person, your relationship to the person, and if you were in good spirits with each other can make a huge difference on your grief cycle.
The first thing you need to know is that you are not alone. Reach out to those around you and reflect on your support system. Tell people you are in grief. Several jobs offer bereavement time.
You need to listen to your body and take a close look at your health. Grief often manifests in the body. You may have headaches, stomach cramps, and muscle weakness. Don't just write off these things. Focus on getting rest, keep track of how you're eating, and be kind to yourself.
Don't be hard on yourself for how you grieve. It will take time to heal. Talking with those who also knew your loved one can help. There are also a multitude of resources out there for counseling, both online and in person.
Your Health Matters
The first few days after someone died will likely be the hardest. You might not sleep well, so stop taking caffeine and other sugary items. It might be easier to digest fruits and vegetables at this time rather than meat. Your body will likely be out of whack. It is common to have headaches as you process the loss.
For some, they'll overeat and for others they'll under-eat. Try to monitor your eating habits and watch your weight. Some people hide their sorrow in food while others are so focused on what's happening in their mind that they forget to eat altogether.
Try putting yourself in relaxing situations. Clean your home and take warm baths. Pamper yourself so you feel better. It's normal to feel sick after someone died. It can cause a whole host of unwanted body issues. You're not just grieving the loss of a person but the friendship you had with them. You may need social media breaks or time away from people -- but being around your friends can also help you take your mind off things.
- Don't stay up too late. Try to stick to a sleep schedule. You may need medicine for sleep.
- Don't bottle up all your emotions. Let yourself cry. Be comfortable with letting other people see you cry. Death is part of human experience. We can't deny this and hide it. Strive to be authentic.
- Eat sensibly. Watch what you're eating and keep track of your food intake.
- If you are struggling with headaches, then be extra sensitive to what triggers them. Your mind might go into hyper-drive resurrecting old memories of your loved one. This can make your head hurt.
- Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.
- Stay on top of laundry and cleaning sheets. Clean clothes can help your general mood.
- Don't indulge in vices to make yourself feel better. Stay off the alcohol and put the cigarettes away. Don't pick these things up now if you never have.
- If you have a dog, it's time to hangout with the pup. Go for walks outside.
- Don't scream and yell and hurt your vocal chords.
- Don't throw and break things or do self harm. You matter. You are important. Your life has worth.
Strategies for Confronting Grief
There are several helpful strategies to keep you in the right direction as you process your grief. Remember everyone grieves differently, so what works for you might not work for others. All of us have different ways of processing and accessing memories, so your experience might be different altogether.
For some of us we can't stop thinking. I suggest writing down what you can, maybe privately at first. Opening up on social media or to a larger audience could be therapeutic, but consider who all is in that audience.
Journaling can help you write out your thoughts and feelings and direct them into shape. This can be helpful if you feel like you've lost your center.
Try exercising. Yoga can help you claim a sense of peace. Your limbs will feel better if you stretch them if you're feeling ill. Exercise helps pump in good chemicals into your body. Also, sedentary lifestyles are unhealthy and can do damage, so don't let yourself sit and do nothing in the dark for too long. Listen to your body and its needs.
Also, try going on a vacation. It can help to take your mind off things by going somewhere else and navigating the world. A vacation can distract you and also take you away from all the busy-body things we do.
Take walks outside and enjoy nature. A good hike can help you get some exercise and allow you to soak up some nature. Interacting with the world around you can help ground your thoughts and body after someone has died.
Creative outlets are helpful after someone has died. Express yourself in whatever way is comfortable for you whether through dance, art, music, writing, or other creative forms. Your loved one doesn't want you to stay mourning forever. They would want you to live your life and to see that each day has worth.
Also, talk to professionals. There are people trained in confronting grief in many walks of life whether you turn to a psychologist, your church, something more new age, or through education -- find a group or person that works for you to help you process your troubles. You are not alone.
Everyone Processes Grief Differently
You will think of this person throughout your life. Grief comes in stages and sometimes during big life moments, you'll really miss them. Remember that it was a gift to know them. Know that they are no longer in pain. If you feel like talking to them in your mind and you feel like they're talking with you during all the pain, just accept it and don't try to rationalize it. Our minds may try really hard to find closure in all of this, and sometimes that makes us want to talk to empty space as though our loved one is there... and maybe they are right there. It's okay to believe your loved one is still there in a way watching you and encouraging you.
If you have a funeral to plan and go through, do it with others. Don't try to take on something so large all by yourself.
If this person died before you got the chance to say you're sorry about something, don't let the guilt drive you. It's common to feel guilt after someone died. We might think there could have been another way. Forgive yourself if there was unfinished business. Life is fragile and temporary. We cannot do everything exactly the right way. Again, your friend or family member are no longer in pain.
And remember, people process grief in different ways. Be open minded and allow others to express their selves in the way they best see fit. If you're not religious, don't tell those who are to stop seeing the world the way they do. If you are religious, be sensitive to your friend.
Do not bring up whether someone is going to heaven or hell. This is inappropriate. Do not scare people or take on grief with hatred. Aim for peacefulness. If you are struggling with anger, please reach out to counselors for help. Anger can lead to other disastrous results, so seek help before it gets out of control.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.