You may want to save this article for times, beyond today, that you need help reflecting on or processing grief – whether for you or a friend.
- acknowledge hardship and sadness
- discuss healthy ways to work through grief
- share ways to support others in grief
- and find life beyond grief
Acknowledging hardship and sadness
When you can recognize grief, sadness, a hardship –claim it to someone else. Saying it out loud is an amazing first step. Claiming your season in life, or your feelings in this season, is important. To share your feelings, instead of “swallowing them”, solidifies a support system that you need. And if your grief is stemming from a relationship, it allows you to problem solve the situation together – and lifts negative feelings. Recognizing the feelings of loss in the case of a death or illness may include disbelief, confusion, shock, sadness, yearning, anger, humiliation, despair, or guilt, to name a few. These feelings are normal. Expressing them, claiming aloud how you feel to someone trustworthy, is a positive first step toward healing.
Discuss healthy ways to work through grief
I love this excerpt from Susan Heitler, Ph.D. “What is the most common mistake people make when they try to share their feelings? Too often, instead of saying ‘I feel…, ‘ people start out with the mistaken phrase ‘You make me feel…'”
How true is this? When our grief comes from a relationship, sharing our feelings rather than blaming the other person for MAKING us feel that way is essential.
If your grief is not generated by a relationship, but by a loss, an illness, or the like, then working through grief can be surprisingly similar. Blaming is the key factor. It is what we want to avoid in order to process past this step in grief. Blaming will not help us move on. It takes the pain from us, to an ADDED pain of “them” or “it”. We just doubled the pain instead of minimizing it. Again, claiming aloud your feelings is key. Sharing “how you feel, instead of how (it) makes you feel, is the best way to share.
If you are helping someone else through grief, a few tips include sharing the sorrow, encouraging them to verbalize their feelings, providing patience no matter how long it takes your loved one to go from this step to the next, and offering practical help such as babysitting, cooking, running errands, etc are all wonderful ways to help.
Share ways to support others in grief
Please know that grief is different for everyone. The steps through grief are often similar, but the time frame for each person is not. They may spend a large portion of their time before they are simply able to claim their pain. Or they may be able to claim their pain immediately, and spend more time processing healthy ways to work through grief. No matter what, patience is where you fit in.
If you are working through grief, allowing others to help is a vital way to help your body move forward. Give yourself the opportunity to heal, by eating healthy, and get plenty of rest, along with trying to avoid alcohol and other unhealthy ways of coping.
Finding life beyond grief
Certainly this is the hardest step to imagine. Because we often do not even want to admit that life can go on after a loss, an extremely hard season, or a relationship that has changed drastically. But allowing yourself to claim your feelings as they come, and looking forward to find joy in moments, then days, then weeks, can provide so much healing. There will never be a time you will forget, let us acknowledge that. However, being able to gift yourself joyful moments is an amazing step toward LIFE.
Remember, allowing support, giving yourself patience and making meaningful efforts, you will survive grief.
- Fraser, Dougall. “How to acknowledge and work through sadness.” Accessed 21 Oct 2018. https://www.dougallfraser.com/how-to-acknowledge-and-work-through-sadness/
- Heitler, Susan Ph.D. “How to express feelings…and how not to.” Psychology Today. 23 May 2013. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/resolution-not-conflict/201305/how-express-feelings-and-how-not
- “Coping with loss: bereavement and grief.” Mental Health America. Accessed 23 Oct 2018. http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/coping-loss-bereavement-and-grief
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