Three Tips for Dealing with Grief

Grief strikes everyone at some point. It could stem from the loss of a job, pet or loved one; emotional or physical trauma; financial problems; divorce or any number of issues. Regardless of the cause, it's important to find healthy ways to cope. By accepting your grief, expressing yourself and finding support, you'll be on your way to emotional healing.

Accept Your Grief

Whatever your loss, you have a right to grieve. It's natural. However, for some people, it seems easier to suppress those complex, difficult feelings and to carry on as if nothing has happened. This is a short-term solution that often results in long-term problems. The path to healing begins with recognizing your grief and allowing yourself to deal with it directly.

Keep in mind that denial and numbness are part of grief. It's normal to put aside feelings of loss for short periods in order to cope with the requirements of everyday life, such as taking care of your family. Problems begin when you never allow the grief to surface, or when you use unhealthy methods, such as drugs or alcohol, to repress it.

Accept that you need to grieve and that you'll go through several stages that range from denial to depression. Allow yourself to feel and to let go of all self-judgment. Every person grieves differently and experiences a rollercoaster of emotions.

Express Yourself

It's okay to let out your grief, whether that's by crying, screaming, creating or talking.

You might believe that part of "staying strong" is holding back your tears. Perhaps you're afraid to cry. Don't let that stop you. Crying is surprisingly healthy. When you cry, you're activating the body's parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to slow heart rate and breathing, as well as to relax the body and ease digestion. It also helps your body flush out stress hormones. When dealing with grief, find a safe place and allow your tears to manifest.

Anger is one of the stages of grief, and screaming is one way to let go of some of that anger. Please remember that you should never scream at someone else or at yourself. Instead, try grabbing a pillow and yelling into it.

Good old-fashioned talking helps the healing process as well. Discussing your emotions and grief with someone else can lead to understanding and acceptance. If you're not comfortable unloading on a friend or family member, seek out a counselor or clergy member. If even that seems daunting, try journaling. Write out your feelings--or use a voice recorder or app to record your thoughts.

Find Support

Grief can be isolating, but finding support is important to healthy coping. There's no shame in finding a counselor or therapist who can listen to you and help you to find positive ways of working through your issues.

Spend time with friends--even a quick phone call can keep you from becoming isolated. If it's easier to open up with strangers, a wide range of support groups are available in most cities. A counselor or therapist may be able to suggest a good group to join.

Finally, check the internet for relevant forums or communities. Whether you've lost a spouse or your job, you'll find groups of like minded people who are struggling with the same issues you are.

Recovery doesn't happen overnight. Grief fades but never really goes away. With time, patience and compassion for yourself, you'll make it through.