4 Ways To Cope With Grief
Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
4 Ways To Cope With GriefTake the time to work through your feelings.
I had a good friend say to me recently, “I can’t believe that after 12 years I still haven’t gotten over the death of my husband.” After being married for over 20 years, she was embarrassed to tell people that she wasn’t ready to start dating again. “My friends tell me it’s time to move on, but I can’t seem to! Shouldn’t I be over this already?” She sighed.
In my work as a spiritual teacher, I hear that same question again and again. But grief has no timetable. I advise people to face their grief rather than try to stifle it or push it away. It’s only when you acknowledge and accept your feelings, and allow yourself the time to work through them, that you truly begin the process of healing. As I tell the students in my healing courses, blocking or suppressing emotions often results in problems later in your physical, emotional and/or spiritual health.
Be kind to yourself when you’ve suffered a loss! It might help you to keep the following points in mind:
1. Don’t allow others to push their expectations onto you.
It’s natural for well-meaning family and friends to encourage you to get on with life. For one thing, they love you, and feel compelled to try to distract you from your grief. They might also have their own reasons for wanting you to move on and start dating again. They may be uncomfortable dealing with your grief, or miss participating in “couples activities” with you. Whether they are acting out of compassion or self-interest, they don’t realize that by telling you that you should be “moving on” they are imposing their timetable on you, while at the same time sending you a message that you are “grieving wrong!”
2. Understand the grieving process, and adapt it to suit your needs.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, in her 1969 book On Death and Dying, introduced the five stages of grief: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These stages, while they can be helpful tools, should by no means be considered a timetable or map. Give yourself permission to experience the stages at your own pace, and in whatever order feels right. While most people experience all five steps to some degree, it is not unusual to skip a step or two.
3. Accept that unexpected and unpleasant feelings might surface.
When you take the time to process your feelings, it’s hard to predict every emotion that might surface. Some will be expected, while others might seem like the “wrong” feelings. You may find yourself very angry at the person you are grieving, and it’s important to know this is totally normal. Allow yourself the time to explore all of your emotions – the good, the bad, and the ugly! You don’t have to share your thoughts with others, as long as you commit to being honest with yourself and accept your feelings without judgment. Keeping a daily journal can be an effective way to monitor your thoughts and feelings, safely and privately.
4. Be kind to yourself.
Take care of yourself, and make an effort to engage in activities that nourish your mind, body, and spirit. Take a walk in the woods, meditate, relax in a warm bath or get a healing massage, and spend time with people who love and support you. You also might find that a support group or therapist or workshop can be invaluable in guiding you through the darkness of loss, so that you can emerge into the light!
To learn more about how to process the darkness that exists in all of us, check out my new book, Entangled in Darkness: Seeking the Light. Join me on the path to the light!