Moving Through Grief – a Journey

Kara Walk-N-Run
Realistic Expectations
January 21, 2019
Practicing Wellbeing Workshop
February 5, 2019

Grief takes a lot of energy. It is truly a journey. The following suggestions include ways in which we can help ourselves through the grieving process. A main idea to keep in mind is to treat yourself with the same care and affection that you would offer to a good friend in the situation. Not all of the suggestions will be helpful to everyone. Grief has its unique sides. Choose the ideas that appeal to you.

Be Patient with Yourself

  • Go gently. Don’t rush too much. Your mind, body, and heart need energy to mend.
  • Don’t take on new responsibilities right away. Don’t over extend yourself.  Keep decision making to a minimum.
  • Don’t compare yourself to other bereaved. It may seem that you aren’t adjusting as well as they; in reality everyone has their own time table and their own path.
  • Discard notions of a fixed period of mourning; one year and then you’re “over it”. This is fiction. Grief takes time, whatever time it takes.

Ask For and Accept Help

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. So much hurt and pain go unheeded during grief because we don’t want to bother others.  Our family and friends can’t read our minds.  Seek out an understanding friend or another bereaved person who cares and understands and with whom you can talk freely.
  • Accept support and support when offered. It’s okay to need comforting.  Often people wait to be told that you need something.  Tell them.
  • Join a support group. They offer understanding, friendship and hope.
  • If grief is intense and prolonged, seek a competent counselor. Often health coverage covers the charges.  It is important to take care of yourself.

Accept Your Feelings

  • Feel what you feel. You don’t choose your emotions; they choose you.
  • It’s okay to cry. Crying makes you feel better.
  • It’s okay to be angry. You may be angry with yourself, the person who died, God, the doctors, your family, or just angry in general. Don’t push it down, let it out (hit a pillow or punching bag, scream, swim, etc.)
  • Thinking you are going crazy is a very normal reaction. Most grieving people experience this.  You are not losing your mind, only reacting to the death.
  • Depression is common to those in grief, be careful not to totally withdraw from others. If your depression becomes severe, get professional help immediately.
  • The emotions of a survivor are often raw. It is important to let these feelings out.  If you don’t, they will come out some other time, some other way.  That is certain.  You won’t suffer nearly as much for “getting to upset” as you will from being brave and keeping your honest emotions all locked up inside.  Share your “falling to pieces” with supportive loved ones.

Lean Into the Pain

  • Lean into the pain. It cannot be outrun.  You can’t go around it, over it or under it.  You must go through it and feel the full force of the pain in order to heal.
  • Save time to grieve and time to face the grief. Don’t throw yourself into work or other activities (including your children, even if they are young) that leave no time for grieving.
  • In a time of severe grief, be extremely careful in the use of alcohol or other prescription drugs.  Sometimes it is a wise decision to utilize anti-depressant medications, but this should be done only with the careful advice of a doctor.  While alcohol may temporarily ease the pain, in reality it is only a mask.  This may lead to further withdrawal, loneliness and even addiction.

Be Good to Yourself

  • Keep a journal.  It is a good way to understand what you are feeling and thinking.  Hopefully, when you reread it later, you will see that you are getting better.
  • Try to get adequate rest.  Avoid caffeine in coffee, tea, and colas.  Good nutrition is also important.  Eat well.
  • If Sundays and holidays are especially difficult times, schedule activities that you find particularly comforting into these time periods.
  • Read books on grief.  It helps to understand what you are going through. You may find suggestions for coping.
  • Moderate exercise is guaranteed to help (walking, tennis, swimming). Exercise offers the opportunity to work off stress and may aid sleep.
  • Know that it is okay to have a pleasant time with your friends and family.  Don’t feel guilty if you have a good time.  Your loved one would want you to be happy.
  • Plan things which you look forward to – a trip, visit, lunch with a friend.  Start to build memories for tomorrow even though it may be hard work at first.
  • Comfort yourself; take a hot, relaxing bath; lie in the sun; take time just for yourself to do whatever you feel like.
  • Put balance in your life; rest, pray, meditate, work, read, relax.
  • When you feel ready, aim at regaining a healthy, balanced life by broadening your interests. Take time for activities that can bring some purpose into your life. Think about doing something you’ve always wanted to do: taking a class, learning a sport, doing volunteer, or helping others in some way.
  • Remember, take your life one moment, one hour, one day at a atime.

Remember: The Grief Journey Takes Time

  • Do not have unrealistic expectations of yourself.  Grief takes time.  How long?  It takes just as long as it takes.
  • Remember, you will get better.  Hold onto hope.  Some days you just seem to exist, but better days will be back.  You will develop a renewed sense of purpose, gradually.  For many individuals, the future also holds, with time, accomplishments that might not otherwise have been possible.  So, trust yourself, take the time you need,  and know that you will discover the path that is right for you.