Updated: Sep 10, 2020
Grief can come in many forms, such as the unexpected death of a loved one, job loss, financial losses, death of pet, anticipated death of a loved one, divorce, etc. Grief does not discriminate against age, sex, or race, and it is difficult to fully understand until you are dealing with it firsthand. This can be an extremely debilitating time for you, and all involved, as it can come into your world like a tornado destroying everything in its path and making you wonder how you ever took life for granted prior to this event. Whether you are dealing with grief yourself or trying to help a friend in need, here are four tips to help you get by:
1. Your timeline is unique to you: If this is your first time dealing with grief you may look to others for advice on how long this is going to last. If others word of encouragement and hopefulness inspire you then great, but there is no set timeline on your grieving process. It is different for every person, based on their event and its impact, and you should just go with what feels right to you. Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross has outlined the process of grief as, “Shock, Denial, Depression, Anger, Acceptance.” This process is not linear, and you may find yourself shifting back and forth and up and down through this process. You may feel many of these feelings at once, you may skip over some completely, you may never be able to accept what has happened, this is all ok. Anger is also an important emotion that should not be suppressed or dismissed. There are many constructive ways to do it such as hitting a punching bag, screaming in your house when alone, journaling it out, singing a song at the top of your lungs that describes your feelings better than you can, etc. There is no magic length of time for how long the grieving will last, but you will feel different waves of this as you learn to carry on in the world.
2. Allow others to help you: During this time, you may feel as though you do not want to burden others with your troubles. You could think there is no way they could understand, simply not have the energy to reach out or even begin to verbalize your needs. It is extremely important to let others be there for you even if it is just to help with day to day tasks. If you are longing for someone but do not know how to communicate, you can simply ask for a friend or family member to just sit with you. It may be difficult for others to know what to say or how to behave, but just their presence can be enough in trying times.
3. Listen to your body: Your entire body goes into shock once an unexpected traumatic event occurs. Some believe we have the same physical response as just getting out of a major surgery. It is important to listen to your body on how much activity you can take, how many errands you can run, and how many phone calls you can take. When tragedy strikes, sometimes even doing the simplest thing such as making the bed or preparing breakfast can feel impossible. This should pass eventually, and you will know when it is your time. If this feeling does not pass it is important to talk to a loved one or therapist to address what is happening. Many will want to rush back to work or pick up new activities before they are mentally ready to face the world.
4. Don’t try to bypass the pain: Consuming marijuana, drinking alcohol, and relying on drugs (prescribed or not) may take away the sting and give you temporary relief while under the influence but unfortunately, this is a temporary band aid and you will eventually have to come back down to reality. Once you do, the pain could be even worse and last longer. People can do this in other ways as immersing themselves in work, compulsively cleaning the house, or staying busy 24/7 to keep their minds off of what has happened. The pain of loss has to be felt to process these feelings and truly heal yourself.
It is important to remember that no matter how awful you feel right now, or have felt lately, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Regardless of your traumatic event, it is important not to isolate yourself. If you don’t have people in your life or any access to therapy, there are countless free support groups to help you through a trying time. Even through your pain, you do not know what an inspiration to others you can be. Saving your own life, can save countless others, and you don’t know who out there needs to hear from you, your own personal experience and how you triumphed through something you thought would kill you.