Despite being a fundamental part of the human experience, grief is an emotion many of us try to avoid talking or thinking about when we encounter it. Grieving is a natural process of responding to loss. We grieve the loss of life, friends, relationships, material possessions, and even life’s circumstances like moving from a place we love or leaving a career behind us. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, but thankfully there are ways to help deal with the sometimes overwhelming feelings that may accompany grief.
The grieving process looks different for everyone and takes its own time. One of the most important things to remember is not to rush the process. Here are some things to keep in mind when you are experiencing grief:
Allow Grief to Run Its Course
Loss in life is inevitable. When you experience loss and subsequent grief, the first step is to fully accept your emotions without judgment or self-censoring. You may feel sad, confused, angry, or scared, and these emotions must be fully experienced and processed to allow you to heal.
All of us have experienced a grieving period that felt like it was never going to end. Something to keep in mind is that when it comes to grief, there is no rush. Some people may show outward signs of grief for days or weeks, while others may take months or years to fully accept a loss. It is vital to remember that everyone’s grieving timelines are different. Whatever it is that you are grieving, remember to be patient with yourself, as healing happens gradually. Some days will be better than others. When you hit an emotionally heavy day, remind yourself that it does not mean that you are moving backward in your grieving progress. Every day is a new experience with processing your grief so that it can run its course naturally.
Learn About Grief
Becoming educated about grief not only helps with the grieving process; it also helps to dispel many unhelpful myths that surround it. Take the opportunity to listen to podcasts, watch movies, or read books about the psychology of grief. These resources will help you to realize that there are many ways to grieve and that the pain you are experiencing is a natural reaction to the loss we all must face from time to time. Learning about grief will help you bring awareness to the warning signs of severe grief and offer you guidance on when it might be a good time to speak with a therapist or counselor. When you are learning about grief, it will allow you to understand and recognize what can trigger certain emotions and accept that your grieving process will be unique to you.
As you allow yourself to feel grief and become educated in the process, acknowledge the healthy methods available to express your pain and move forward. Expressing emotions and processing them is vital during this process, so resist the urge to edit yourself or keep up appearances for someone else’s sake.
Write A Letter
Writing a letter to your loved one can be a healthy way to grieve. One of the most challenging parts of the grieving process is not being able to talk to the person who has passed. If your grief is about losing something more material or abstract, consider personifying what you have lost and writing as if the object were someone you knew and loved. Although these letters may only be read by you, writing a letter can help to say things that you may not have had the opportunity to voice, and in that way, find closure in thoughts that are troubling you.
Writing letters to other loved ones that may be grieving with you may also help you process your loss. If you are having difficulty explaining your grief in words to your family or friends, it may help to write it out in a letter first. Sometimes telling others that you are struggling feels like an impossible task, where a letter can help you relay your message in your own time. Even if you never send the letter, simply writing down your feelings and putting your words on paper will help.
Meditation as a Healing Practice
Meditation is a form of mindfulness that helps to focus on the present moment with complete acceptance and non-judgment. Mindfulness meditation has numerous benefits that include reducing stress and anxiety and improving overall health and well-being. The goal of meditation is not to empty the mind completely; it is a practice to focus and calm your mind and increase your internal awareness.
When your emotions seem to be too much and you wish we could shut off the thoughts inside of our head, turn to meditation. Just remember that, like anything, meditation takes time to show results. Start slow and be patient with yourself. Start by focusing on your breath and sit with yourself without judging your thoughts and emotions. It’s okay to cry, and it’s okay to be frustrated or confused. Developing an attitude of radical acceptance towards these uncomfortable feelings will help you move past them.
The grieving process is an inevitable part of life. Nothing in life is permanent, and each of us will experience loss in profound ways throughout our lifetimes. When these moments of grief arise, having a reliable guide to help us find healthy ways to process and acknowledge our loss can help us move forward as best we can. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to allow your grieving process to run its course in its own time without trying to rush through it. Try to find healthy ways to express your grief, like writing a letter, meditating, and finding support when you need it. At West Coast Recovery Centers, we focus on traditional and mindfulness-based treatment services to educate you about your thoughts and emotions and how to process them. If you or someone you know is needing assistance with substance abuse treatment or other resources, please give us a call at (760) 492-6509.