Healthy Grieving: What it is and Isn’t
One of the most frequent things I hear clients talk about is how they don’t want to think about losing someone or something they deeply care about. Although frequently experienced, grief isn’t discussed in-depth often enough.It’s safe to say that no one actually wants to grieve. After all, grieving means facing the loss of a loved one or something dear to you. But when your time comes to say goodbye to someone or something, it is essential to understand what you are going through and how you can approach the grieving process in a healthy way.
What Causes Grief?
The first thought here is probably the death of a loved one (human or nonhuman). While this is certainly a very painful cause of grief, other events can result in a need to mourn.
Some examples of situations that can induce grief include:
• Losing a job
• Health issues
• Relationship break-up
• Financial crisis
• A dramatic change in circumstances
• Loss of a lifelong dream
There are no right or wrong reasons to grieve and the process is natural and necessary. Grieving is your human nature allowing you to accept and adapt. When something won’t allow us accept and adapt, we can feel stuck in an ongoing cycle of pain and numbing.
What is Healthy Grieving?
Grieving can be a highly personal process but universal in so many ways.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Well-meaning people will often say insensitive things
People mean well when they say things like, “Stay strong” or “She’s in a better place” or “At least he’s not suffering anymore.” In the name of social graces, you can cut them some slack. For the sake of your progress, you must not allow such cliches to guilt or shame you.
2. Create Your Own Timetable
No one but you can decide when you feel better or when you can “move on.” Guidance is great but only you understand what a particular loss means to you. This is not a license to never move forward. Rather, it is an important and productive boundary.
3. Don’t Isolate Yourself (For too long)
You may feel sad, ashamed, angry, or variations of many emotions. It can also be common to feel like no one understands what you are going through. You may be tired of getting unsolicited advice and as a result, you shut down and shut off. Again, set your own timetable. Find solitude when needed. But never forget the importance of collective support. You don’t have to do this alone. Instead of isolating yourself, choose your support circle with care.
4. Practice Self-Care
Even in your darkest moments, you matter. Self-care at any time is crucial. During the grieving process, it is a way to be the best version of you in order to deal with a worst-case scenario.
Some basics to keep in mind:
• Stress management
• Relaxation techniques
• Daily exercise and activity
• Regular sleep patterns
• Healthy eating habits
When Grief Becomes Complicated
Not all grief dissipates and lessens over time. If it goes so for too long that it is causing other problems and there doesn’t seem to be any relief, it’s time to seek help. Sometimes, there are other factors like existing mental health issues or substance abuse. Either way some bereaved individuals will move back and forth through the stages of grief without any form of resolution. This can result in a wide range of symptoms but these may be the most common mindsets:
Feeling Numb or “Nothing”
You want to feel but for many reasons, you can’t. It is common to feel stuck in an unproductive rut.
Putting Off or Delaying Your Feelings
In this case, you do not want to feel so you repress the pain.
Getting Stuck in Your Grief
Here, you feel so much and so intensely, there appears to be no way out. The inability to find any resolutions has been linked to the development of depression and/or anxiety.
People with require treatment and this usually means some form of therapy. If you feel concerned that you or someone close to you is caught in this heart-breaking cycle, reach out for help and more information.