On dealing with grief

Methods for coping with the noise

By Douglas Redd

[W]hen you are grieving, it may seem instinctual to build a wall around yourself. Or you might want to bottle your emotions and disguise what you really feel. It is important, however, to realize that there are other ways to heal that keep you and your relationships healthy. The American Psychological Association recommends several methods for dealing with loss including acceptance, self-care, and support system building.

Loss, failure, or separation can cause pain that may never go away and, in my experience, this pain comes in waves. At times, I would convince myself that I was OK, but something small, like a song or smell, would consume the peace of mind I thought I had. At times, the grief may not seem all that bad while at other times the anger, sadness, or denial may swallow you whole.

It is human to feel this pain, and it is human to let yourself express the heartache that comes with loss.

It is crucial to remember that it’s OK to hurt. The first step to moving on is allowing yourself to be sad. Denial will only prolong the pain you’re feeling. During the initial stages of grief, surround yourself with others. Do not allow the pain to make you forget about the people that you still have. Your friends and family understand what you are going through, and shutting them out will only further your misery.

While you may not want to open up about what you are experiencing inside, realize that talking about what you are feeling will make it better. Talking is believed to reduce stress, and during times of grief, it could be useful to help create a support network. Loved ones want to support you during times of grief, so let yourself lean into that support rather than resisting it. You have people to talk to, so use them to ease your pain. Talking will let you realize that you cannot and should not depend solely on yourself, and it could allow others to find different ways to help you heal.

Grief won’t only affect you mentally, but it will also seep into your daily life and could begin to affect your lifestyle, routine, and health habits. To cope with loss, it is important to maintain your health and wellness.

To make this easier, it may be useful to understand the five stages of grief.

The five stages of grief are denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Those who are grieving experience these stages differently; they might experience all of these stages in this order, skip some of them, or they may appear in a completely different order. While everyone may find that some coping mechanisms are better than others, there are a few health-related tips to make the process easier.

Firstly, make sure that you are able to get an ample amount of sleep. The process of grieving may tire the body, and a lack of sleep could cause you to feel worse.

To properly nourish your body, do not forget to maintain healthy eating habits. This also applies to the use of substances to alleviate the pain. While alcohol and other drugs may seem like they numb the pain, they ultimately will only bring more trouble.

Taking care of yourself is an essential part of living well, especially in times of struggle. When grief has the potential to not only affect your mental health, but your physical health too, you need to take additional measures to ensure your well-being. These measures also include returning to things that made you happy before.

Do not forget about the little things in life that you previously enjoyed. I am not telling you to distract yourself from the pain that accompanies grief, but to indulge in the activities that made life worthwhile to begin with. It is not over yet — enjoy what there is left to love.

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