This article was published on Joyce’s PsychCentral blog, The Psychology of Success.
Whether you lost a loved one to sickness, tragedy , divorce or even a significant break-up, loss is a trauma. Losses can create identity challenges, lifestyle changes, financial problems and even have social implications.
After 20 years of counseling clients through grief as well as experiencing my own losses, I recommend the following:
1) Be patient with yourself. There is no timeline for grief. It is different for each person. Honor your feelings and your own experience. Grief can take years or even decades to process. It is normal for anniversaries or life events to trigger grief responses.
2) Access support. You may want to curl up and isolate but it is important to connect with others and ask for what you need. Let your loved ones help you, don’t turn them away. Counseling is a healthy, proactive part of routine healthcare. Insurance usually covers therapy. Talk to a grief counselor and get the support you deserve. Support groups are great for normalization and validation from people who understand.
3) Know that you aren’t losing your mind. You may go from tired to angry to laughing to crying to numb and it is all a normal response to grief. Grief is a process. If you honor it and allow your mind and body to experience the roller coaster of feelings., there is great insight that can be gained, many lessons that can be learned and many blessings that can be bestowed.
4) Understand that grief is a process. You may go through the 5 stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) in a different order and revisit various stages time and time again. This is normal. Progress is not linear. I recommend therapy, support groups and keeping a grief journal.
5) Practice self-care. Take everything off your plate that you can and replace it with self-care. Go for walks, connect with nature, create art, journal, do yoga, exercise, meditate, cook a healthy meal, watch a good movie or do anything that fills your cup and brings you back to balanced.
“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” -Vicki Harrison