Loss is universal, which means that, in one way or another, everyone has dealt with it.
When you lose someone or something, you will likely experience grief.
Even though grief is a normal reaction, it’s very painful, and you might be searching for ways to cope with the varying emotions you experience.
While there is no magical cure to alleviate your deep sorrow, there are healthy ways to cope with what you are experiencing that can help you navigate through the pain and make sense of the loss.
Here are five ways to cope with loss and grief.
Normalize your experience.
Many people who are grieving wonder if they are coping the “right” way. But there is no one way to cope.
Grieving looks different on everyone, and normalizing your emotions is a great place to start.
This simply means telling yourself…
It’s okay to be sad.
There’s nothing wrong with me.
It’s not my fault.
I will get through this.
I’m doing the best I can.
This might feel strange in the beginning, but the more you say it, the more you’ll believe the message and derive comfort and strength from it.
Engage in a self-care routine.
Often when people grieve, they neglect their basic self-care routine. Consider the things you used to do to de-stress, relax, and take care of yourself before the loss.
If you can’t think of any or didn’t have a regular self-care practice, here are some ideas: take a walk, go outside for fresh air and sunshine, journal, read, do a beauty treatment like a face mask, take a hot shower, exercise, talk with a trusted friend or family member, engage in mindfulness, meditation, or prayer.
Identify 3-5 things and create a regular practice. A routine is crucial as it’s very possible that you may not feeling like engaging in acts of self-care, love, and kindness during this difficult time.
Write in a journal.
Words are powerful because they help to clarify what you are thinking and feeling. Words aid in making sense of thoughts, ideas, and emotions that are otherwise jumbled in the mind.
Designate 15-20 minutes a day to process your thoughts by writing them down. Through this exercise, you may notice how you travel through the various stages of grief.
In time, you will be able to look back and see how you have evolved through the grief. Journaling allows you to track your process and see your journey to move your life forward after the loss.
Explore the meaning of the loss.
If you lost a loved one to death, it may be helpful to explore your loved one’s legacy.
Everyone wants to be remembered for something. And everyone wants to know that their life mattered and had a positive impact on others.
Regardless of whether or not your loved one is gone from this world, or only from your life, it can be useful to think about how that person wanted, or still wants, to be remembered.
Reflection can lead to an understanding about the meaning of your loved one’s life. It can also aid in clarifying the reason that person was in your life, and the impact he or she had on you.
Consider the following questions:
What did/does he or she love to do?
What was/is he or she passionate about?
What were some of his or her notable accomplishments?
What did/does your loved one want to be remembered for?
You can also use the loss as an opportunity to make changes in your own life by considering the legacy you want to leave behind and identifying steps you can take to live a more purposeful life.
If you struggle to answer this, ask yourself the same questions you reflected on above for your loved one.
If you lost something, instead of someone, explore the purpose the thing served in your life, what you gained from it, and what lessons you learned that you’ll take with you.
Go to your happy place.
When you feel overwhelmed by negative emotions, it can be useful to go to your happy place. Known as guided imagery, this technique can be used to calm your physiological state by engaging your senses.
Imagine a place where you feel calm and at peace. It might be a place you frequent, a spot you visited only once, or a completely imaginary destination.
Close your eyes, relax your shoulders, and take a deep breath from your belly.
Then answer the following questions:
What do you see?
What do you smell?
What do you taste?
What do you feel?
What do you hear?
Savor the moment, fully engaging with the sensory qualities that make this place so special to you.
This can be done anywhere, only takes a few minutes, and can provide fast relief to the heaviness of grief’s coat. You’ll likely feel calmer, more relaxed, less physical tension, and have a steadier breath.
We know that grieving is a process, and how you cope during this process will determine how you evolve through it. Counseling can help you navigate this confusing time, develop skills, build resilience, and create meaning.
If you are grieving a loss and would like professional support, please call (760) 942-8663. I would love to speak with you and share in this journey of healing with you.