One of the most devastating experiences we must endure in life is grieving a loss of a loved one. Although we have the knowledge that everyone will eventually die, and we logically understand the finality of death, no amount of information can prepare us for the devastation of the actual grief experience. Losing someone we love can be overwhelming. Trying to comprehend the finality of this separation is a shock to our system. We can feel angry, anxious, or depressed.
Experiencing grief differs for each person. How we endure, experience, and eventually thrive is unique to each individual. Although Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) are very well known, they are still imperfect: not everyone will experience those exact emotions. There is no road map and no timeline when it comes to grief. When you start to feel better is largely up to you.
One of the most important things to recognize when it comes to grief is that the length of time you spend in mourning, or the depths of the sadness you feel, are not a measure of how much you treasured the loved one you lost. At the same time, it’s unhealthy to try and “skip over” the period of mourning by burying yourself in work or play. The only way to the destination at the end is to walk the road and to do that you must let the feelings come up: cry when you need to cry, and laugh when you need to laugh. If the sorrow you’re experiencing is overwhelming, here are some activities to try and alleviate it.
Schedule time to cry. If you find yourself spending too much time crying and upset, schedule a time to feel sad. Give yourself one hour when you can cry as much as you like. But when the hour is up, wash your face and do something nice for yourself.
Do something in honor of your loved one. This can be making a donation in their name, volunteering, planting a tree, or baking their favorite cake.
Write. Write your loved one a letter or journal your feelings.
Meditate. Find a quiet place to meditate or pray. Visit your place of worship or read religious books you find comforting.
Exercise. Go for a walk, go to the gym, or take a yoga class. Try something new, or do something familiar – whichever feels better to you.
Although someone you loved has died, who they were has left a permanent mark on you: you are forever changed because of them. Honor their memory by honoring their life, and honor their life by making the best out of yours.
If you’re feeling stuck in your grief and would like to explore how counseling might be helpful, feel free to reach out to me at 919-891-0525 today for a free, 15-minute phone consultation. I would be happy to explore how I may be able to help you. If we are a good fit, appointments may be scheduled for my Wake Forest counseling office or online.