Grief can make us feel desperate – desperately out of control, desperately sad, desperate to return to your old life, desperately lonely and isolated.
Faced with all that desperation, it makes sense that many people come to us asking what they can do to ease the pain, reduce the turmoil, and help them feel they can exert a measure of control over the terrible roller coaster ride that is grief.
Here then are five practical tips, backed by research and years of experience working with the bereaved, that you can use immediately.
1 - DIAL BACK THE GUILT
If you find yourself feeling you’re ‘not grieving right’ or feeling uncomfortable about laughing at such a terrible time, please STOP! Research now shows there’s no right or wrong way to grieve (i.e. there are no 5 Stages ofGrief – that’s a total myth). If you’re having good moments, or finding yourself laughing that’s because your body is programmed to experience both positive and negative emotions - even during grief. This is not toxic positivity, but scientific fact! Positive emotional experiences are not only common in grief, but they play a vital role in allowing you to experience some respite. It’s not only okay to laugh, it’s good to laugh, or experience a moment of pride over how you are coping, feel gratitude towards your friends, or even feel lucky to be alive. That doesn’t make you a monster, it just makes you human.
2 - PRESS PAUSE ON UNHELPFUL RELATIONSHIPS
Bereavement tests even the best relationships, that’s quite normal. Most recover with time. Don’t beat yourself up about changing relationships. But do know that because we all grieve differently, other people may experience and demonstrate their grief in a completely different way to you.
3 - IDENTIFY THE HELP YOU ACTUALLY NEED
Some people are better at providing emotional support, some physical assistance, others practical support, others will help you with informational knowledge such as help with legal/financial advice. Some may be useless at all of that, but always talk about your loved one, are never afraid to say their name, and will help keep their memories alive in a way that others could never do.Don’t expect one person to cover all of these. Cast your net as widely as you can, and notice what each person CAN do (not just their failings!).
4 - APPROACH GRIEF IN MANAGEABLE CHUNKS
Contemporary research demonstrates it’s completely natural & healthy to approach your grief and then pull back and take a break. We oscillate back and forth between facing it and avoiding it, and that’s okay. Distracting activities can be helpful for taking your mind off if for a while, giving your poor mind and heart a bit of respite from all of that emotional heavy lifting.
5 - LOWER THE BAR
Grief is physically, emotionally and cognitively exhausting – let yourself sleep when you can. Don’t be harsh on yourself, this is tough and gruelling work. Some days you may feel okay, and can be surprisingly productive, at other times you may need to succumb to the couch or hide under the duvet. Don’t beat yourself up, go with the flow. You’ll eventually get hungry and have to move.
Choose ONE tip that resonates with you, give it a go, and see if it helps, before trying the others. Grief is as individual as your fingerprint, the trick is to find what works for you. We’re all different. Every death/relationship is different too.
Remember, it is possible to live and grieve at the same time. We’re here to show you how.We’d love to know which of these is helping you to grieve, on your own terms, in your own time. So get in touch, via our Coping With Loss Community or directly through our contact form.
If you (or someone you care about) is struggling to get their life back following devastating loss, then please pass these important lessons on… Or come and join me in my **LIVE** short course called A Better Way to Grieve.
You will learn practical tools and techniques to ensure you are as empowered and prepared as possible to get your life back on track, and work towards a greater sense of control and calm.