Grief and death are two things that we all feel in life, yet nobody likes talking about it. Perhaps this is why they are both so difficult to comprehend. You can feel overwhelmed by grief when a loved one passes. It almost strangles and suffocates you, and there’s no way to turn. Many people struggle to deal with grief because they don’t know what to do. Should you bottle it all up and try to move on? Is it wise to let your grief flow until there’s nothing left?
Unless you’ve been in the situation before, it’s hard to know the right steps to take. So, I thought I’d create a post that explains the healthy way of dealing with grief. By ‘healthy’ I mean that it’s good for your mental health and wellbeing. There are unhealthy ways of dealing with grief that can do more harm than good. It’s a sensitive subject, and I will do my best to explain everything to you.
Be aware of your pain
This sounds like the worst thing you can do. Grieving is a painful process; shouldn’t you look to ease that pain? Doesn’t this mean that trying to ignore it will get rid of it faster? In short, no. Ignoring your pain never works. We can’t magically get rid of grief by not thinking about it. The best you can do is hide the pain beneath the surface. But, this will just lead to you bottling up some emotions that can then come roaring out when you least expect it. Ignoring your grief turns you into a ticking time bomb of emotions - there’s no way of knowing what can set you off.
Instead, you have to be aware of your pain. Acknowledge what you’re feeling and be aware that you are grieving. Understand that you are sad and that it is perfectly natural to be sad. When you’re aware of your pain it’s much easier to move past it. Think of it as a big room with a door at one end that’s guarded by a giant monster. You can try and hide from the monster by sticking to the shadows and creeping around them. But, this will be incredibly difficult and the chances are you’ll never get through the door. It takes a great deal of courage to walk straight up to the monster and acknowledge it, where you find that they will move out of the way and let you through. This is just an analogy, but you get the point: be aware of your pain if you want to move on.
Don’t be afraid to let your emotions out
One of the biggest misconceptions of grief is that you have to be brave or strong. Oh, look at that person, she’s not crying, she’s so strong and brave. You hear these sentiments all the time, and they do more harm than good. Braveness does not equate itself to your emotions. You can still be brave while crying. Braveness is getting out of bed every morning and going on with your life when you’ve lost someone close to you. It’s taking those first few steps back into work, it’s finding the courage to talk about your grief. All the while, you can still bawl your eyes out and cry for days on end. It won’t make you less brave, but it will help you heal.
Believe it or not, but there are many benefits of crying. For too long, this has been associated with weakness. It's not weak to let your emotions out. Again, this stops you from keeping them bottled up inside. Often, crying will give you a mental release that can help you get over an invisible barrier. Too many people try to hold in their emotions when someone dies. I must stay strong, you tell yourself. It’s not good for you, these emotions exist for a reason. Stopping yourself from crying is as bad as holding in a pee. Eventually, you will have to release it, but you’ll do it while damaging yourself in the process. Don’t be afraid to cry it out.
Never be alone
Let me clarify this point. It’s okay to physically be alone if you want some time to yourself. You can be home on your own as this might help you grieve properly by giving you a chance to let your emotions flow. However, you shouldn’t be alone in the sense that you shut yourself off from everyone that knows you. Many people do this when they grieve, making it impossible for anyone to contact you. It’s much harder to get through troublesome times when you are completely and utterly alone.
Instead, open yourself up to others. Ask for help and support. Nobody will think less of you, in fact, they will be happy you ask them to help. This is most important in the days following death. Here, you have your grief to deal with, along with so many other things. There’s your loved one’s will to contend with, funeral preparations, sorting through old stuff, financial things, etc. Get help with all of this. Ask a friend or family member to help plan the funeral so you don’t have to deal with choosing between silver or bronze grave markers and the correct flower arrangements. Bring people to meetings with solicitors or bank managers if you have any. Surround yourself with an emotional support system to lighten the load on your shoulders.
Don’t set expectations
Finally, never set expectations for how long it takes someone to grieve. Some people take longer than others, and that’s normal. It depends on many factors: your mental health, your family, your personal situation, and so on. There’s no timeline for grief. Take as long as you need and don’t be afraid if you think it’s taking longer than usual. This isn’t a race - let your body and mind naturally find its path to healing.
I sincerely hope that this helps anyone struggling with grief right now. No words can make you feel better, but perhaps this advice will set you down the path to regaining some semblance of normal life.