Losing someone you love or something you valued is a very painful experience. At times, you may feel like the sadness and pain will never get better, and you’ll experience a huge range of emotions. These reactions are normal after a major loss. Grieving is a slow process that can last for months or years, but a few healthy coping strategies can help you deal with the pain and allow you to move on.
Types of Grief
Grief can take different forms, and each type of grief comes with its own set of challenges:
- Anticipatory grief: This term describes the grief process that a person engages in when a loved one is near the end of their life. During this type of grieving process, family members may try to envision life without that person in it, and they begin to anticipate how they will cope with the loss.
- Sudden loss: When a person suffers an unexpected loss, their coping mechanisms may be heavily taxed by the tragedy. They may feel overwhelmed or unable to function; they may also take longer to comprehend the true impact of the loss.
- Complicated grief: Grief doesn’t always follow a typical progression. For some individuals, the severity of their grief interferes with their ability to function. Complicated grief usually includes symptoms of anxiety and depression, and it doesn’t resolve on its own. If you suspect you may be struggling with complicated grief, it’s important to speak to a mental health professional right away.
Methods of Grief Management
Every person has their own way of dealing with painful experiences; however, a few strategies can help you manage your feelings and get through the grieving process:
- Talk to family members and good friends
- Eat healthy, wholesome foods
- Get regular exercise
- Join a support group
- Seek spiritual counseling
- Allow yourself to feel your grief
These ideas provide a good starting point for handling grief, but talking to friends who have experienced a similar loss may help you identify other coping strategies as well.
To understand your own personal coping style, think about how you’ve dealt with difficult experiences in the past. Developing a set of healthy coping skills is essential for processing a loss and eventually moving forward.
Tactics to Avoid
People grieve in many ways, but not every coping technique is a healthy one. In fact, certain factors can slow down the healing process and make it difficult to resolve grief. These factors can include:
- Abusing alcohol or drugs
- Engaging in compulsive behaviors
- Overworking yourself at your job
- Internalizing your feelings
- Avoiding painful emotions
Loss is an unavoidable part of life, and grief is an important element of the healing process. Grief rarely occurs in a linear fashion; it’s normal to experience it in cycles. Be patient and gentle with yourself, and give yourself time to experience the various thoughts and feelings that come with grief.
If your feelings become overwhelming, or you find yourself stuck in a particular stage of mourning, speak to your doctor or a mental health professional. Help is available to get you through this difficult period and guide you to a state of acceptance and healing.