“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths.” ~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Grief is the emotional distress we experience followed by a significant loss. It is all part of the human experience – similar to many other emotions, it exists across beliefs systems, cultures, races, and languages. However, it may differ in how it is expressed, in terms of intensity, duration, your own life experiences, etc.
Most often, grief is associated with the death of a loved one. This type of grief doesn’t only lead to a state of deep mourning for the deceased soul, but also the significant life changes, because of the loss. So in other words its also a loss of a life that was planned.
Although this form of grief is arguably the most painful, individuals experience grief in response to losses that may not be due to death. In this article I wanted to highlight what these losses may look like. And please know that we all, at some point(me included) have faced these levels of grief. Like I said before, all part of the human experience.
I remember when I lost my dad to a sudden heart attack, I was in another country and I couldn’t reach his funeral. I couldn’t say goodbye. But the grief was so deep, that I went completely numb for months. I couldn’t cry at all. I immersed myself in work, completely neglected to acknowledge my feelings and tried to bury the pain in some corner of my heart. It all came gushing out when I lost my younger brother to an unexpected car accident just two years after that. I remember distinctly, the moment I got the news of each of these, I felt like the world went dark for a few moments. It really hits you, like a million trucks together.
We experience deep levels of grief when…
- When we lose a loved one, a friend, a relative, a coworker, a lover, a child, a partner.
- When we experience a painful transition or sudden change in life.
- When we lose our job or retire from one.
- When we go through a break up or divorce(no matter how mutually amicable it was)
- When we go through a miscarriage.
- When we lose a pet.
- When a friendship ends or we lose a friend.
- When we lose something or someone that made us feel safe.
A gentle reminder, that there is no time limit to the grieving process. Honestly, there is no right or wrong way to grieve. I encourage you to prioritize whatever it is that you need right now to get through this difficult time. Take your time and look after yourself.
Let’s Understand a few things about Grief
- There is no right or wrong way to grieve. The experience of grief looks and feels very different for everyone. Grief may lead to chaotic and rebellious behaviour or it may also result in withdrawal from society and intense uncontrollable emotions.
- We don’t really ever completely recover from grief, but over time, we learn to live with it. And heal from the pain too.
- For souls who are grieving, everything feels extremely hard. When they can’t live up to a committment, you need to understand that they are trying their best. We need to respect their grieving process.
- Sometimes, people are not ready to face the the painful emotions that erupt when a major loss or event happens. The grief is so deep that they rather not think of it at the time. For some it takes years to face the grief, and sometimes it only happens when another life experience has triggered it. Hence, there is no time limit to the grieving process.
- When you speak to someone who is grieving, try not to compare your loss(or anyone else’s loss) to theirs. It is better to instead allow them to share and feel heard.
Positive Ways to Cope with Grief
“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you’ll learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.” ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler
While the pain is deep and the grief seems immeasurable, there are positive ways to cope with the grief. In my experience professionally and personally, I can tell you this, that it does get easier to live with. You can heal from the grief and lead a full life.
Here are some Positive ways to cope with Grief:
- Give yourself permission to feel
Grief is very very painful, but it is a natural emotion. Grief is the natural emotional process of healing after a loss that allows the intensity of the pain and sadness to decrease over time as you move forward in your life. It is the emotion you will most certainly feel when you experience a significant loss. Allow yourself to feel these painful and difficult emotions that are associated to your grief like anger, sadness, shock…but without judgement. We are all different and hence process grief differently. There is no right or wrong way through it. There is just your way. And you will find that way for sure.
- Talk about your loss
Talking is an outlet to release your pent up emotions and feelings. Its a way to process these big and difficult feelings. This is why talking about these feelings with someone you trust can help you make sense of it and release the pressure you are feeling within. Its not about finding a solution, but just having someone to listen helps immensely.
- Give yourself Time
Sometimes grief lasts longer, depending on the loss you have faced and the your ability to process those emotions. Understnad, that there is no right or wrong time frame to process or cope from grief. However, sometimes as time passes by and you get further away from the loss, time wise, you may start feeling better with every passing day. Give yourself the time and space to process the loss, no matter however long it takes.
- Don’t make any major decisions
Grief and the emotional pain that you feel after a significant loss, make it very hard to make rational decisions. There is too much pain within, so it is best not to tax yourself with making huge decisions just yet. Everything can wait till you feel upto it. And, if you absolutely must make some important decisions, which you feel can’t wait, ask for advice and counsel from those you trust.
- Allow Rest
Grief is emotionally and physically tiring. Its exhausting on so many levels. It will make you tired and wont allow you to function normally. This is why its best to take some time to rest and slow down during this time. There is no hurry to get back to running around, allow yourself the rest your mind and body need.
- Try to distract your mind
Wehn we are grieving we think and think and think. The mind can replay the loss again and again which can make us feel too much too. It’s a good idea in these times to distract the mind with something you might like. And activity like cooking something, or listening to soothing sounds or reading a favorite book. The activity can be anything that gives your heart and mind some time away from grieving. This will slowly bring you back to living.
- Be kind and gentle with yourself
The process of grieving is a tough one. Your loss is valid and huge. Its only natural for you to feel the way you are feeling. So don’t be hard on yourself when you can’t get back to normalcy or even do the regular things easily. This is the time you need to be gentle and kind with yourself and your heart. Talk to yourself with love and gentleness.
What can I say to a loved one who is grieving?
Over the time that I have been running this website and even personally, I always get asked “what can I say to a loved one who is grieving?”
Grief is such a delicate, complex and painful process. If someone you know and love has experienced a major loss in their life, these statements are a kind and beautiful way to show them that you love and support them.
Hope you find these helpful ♥️:
~ “It helps to talk about our loss. Know that I am here for you when you feel like talking. You are not alone in this”
~ “I can not imagine what you are going through, but please know that I am here for you in whatever capacity you want.”
~ “Sometimes, loss of this magnitude can make us feel lonely or unsafe. It can make us feel scared. I want to assure you that this is normal to feel during this time. You are not alone in this, I am right beside you.”
I request and encourage you to use this article only as a guide. Every soul has a unique experience, so some strategies/tools might not be relevant to a specific situation.
For more specific help and counseling as per your unique situation, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m here always 💗
With all my love, Z~
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8 thoughts on “Positive Ways to Cope with Grief”
Grief is an alteration, creating a new of definition of being, making for a finer person. Those who have grieved most are the ones capable of loving strongly. And deep love serves to counteract and heal grief. Grief will always be around to inspire sublime versions of love. Thanks, Zeenat, for such an insightful discussion on grief…xx.
Raj, thank you as always for your wonderfully insightful comment here. Appreciate you! ❤
Beautifully articulated Zeenat. I could connect with this post and admire your wisdom about grief.
Hi Balroop, Glad you liked my thoughts here. Grief is a harsh reality of life. One we all go through at some point. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts here. ❤
Hi Zeenat, I grew up in the cauldron of grief and was taught by the first hand experiences of life that “jeene ke liye gum ki bhi zaroorat hoti hai.” 😊🤗
Grief is hard and it does take much time to come to terms with it. Even more so when it is a child and a senseless death through an accident by a dangerous driver as we have had in the family. It will take long. Thank you for your help here.
This is such important, helpful, and timely information, Zeenat. With Covid and everything else happening in the world, I feel people are grieving for the death of loved ones, the loss of a way of life, transitions, and all the other things you mention. Grief has profoundly touched my life in the past, and will again, I know. It is just part of life, and it helps to be compassionate and patient with ourselves, as you suggest. As with everything else, it comes down to self-care.
Thank you for this deeply empathetic article, Zeenat. I think you’ve covered every single aspect of grief with deep understanding.
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