7 Tips on Handling Grief

Red and green rollercoaster in the shape of a heart

Grief is an emotional rollercoaster

Grief can be caused by many things.  For me, grief came to visit when I lost my husband.  Grief is a natural response when we experience loss.  If I could only share a few things with someone on grief, this is what I would share:

1. Grieve with your children.  Don’t tell them how they should feel and don’t let anyone tell you how to feel.  We can also get lost in telling ourselves how we should feel.  We are our hardest critics.  Don’t let your children’s perception be ruined by allowing others to tell them how to feel.  Make sure that they know it is okay to cry, to yell and scream.  You might want to let them know that the library is an unacceptable place to do that though.

2. Pay attention to your health.  Get physical.  Run, walk, skip, whatever you can do, but keep moving.  Exercise has a way of clearing your mind and allowing you to focus. 

3. There is no timeline.  Cry when you need to, laugh when you want to and smile because you can. Do not let anyone tell you that you get a year to grieve or you should be over that by now.  Everyone has their own grieving period.  Grieve as fast or as slow as you need to.

4. Feel sorry for yourself.  It sucks your spouse is gone. But at some point you need to stop.  We cannot wallow in self pity forever, but it’s normal to do it for awhile.  So many people ask themselves…why me?  You will not find that answer, but if you need to search for it…do it.   Find a way to not dwell on the idea for too long or you will spend the rest of your life looking for the answer.

5. Don’t ignore the pain.  It will be hard to want to face your life, but do it with your arms open as wide as you can handle. This is how you can work through your feelings.  There might be times when you can only handle so much, so back up, cross your arms and don’t let any more pain in at that moment.  When you feel it subsiding, open up a little more and face it.  Trust me, it is scary, you feel vulnerable and it will not be fun.  One day, it will be worth it.

6. Find support…from friends or talk to a counselor.  Facing your loss is hard, and you do not need to do it alone.  Talk to friends when you need to.  Find the people you trust and share your fears and vulnerability.  You should be able to lean on your friends. Talking to a counselor helps.    An unbiased opinion will listen and guide you to a rational mind.

7. Plan ahead when you can for triggers.  Prepare yourself for the emotional rollercoaster.  There are anniversaries, holidays, birthdays and so many firsts.  The anxiety that happens before the event is almost worse than going through the event.  There will be some triggers that will catch you off guard.  It happens.  It was hard for me to remove my husband’s name from accounts we had.  I did not prepare myself for it and it triggered my emotional rollercoaster.

I hope these few tips will help you get through another moment when you feel like hiding under the covers or look in the mirror and see the stranger looking back at you.  Take the time to grieve every day if you can.  If you can put aside an hour or even a few minutes it will help.  Let your mind wander, validate your feelings and use your crazy courage.

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