Grief is our response to loss. It’s the process we go through when we lose somebody close to us, but it’s not strictly confined to someone’s death. Any loss can cause us to grieve – whether it is the loss of a parent, child, friend, or even the loss of an imagined future with a spouse when a marriage fails.
Even small moments of loss in our lives leave a somewhat lasting effect; such as moving house or home, leaving a workplace or graduating college.
While there are 5 typical phases of grief, we tend to “roller coaster” around between them, which makes it difficult to determine a strategy to help us cope with our loss.
To form a helpful response to our situation, we need to face our feelings and accept them for what they are. There’s little point in suppressing emotion and hoping it will go away. The emotions are there; ignoring them only make them last longer when we finally have to face them.
In life, to paraphrase Rocky Balboa, it’s not how often we get knocked down that defines us but what we do about it. It can be greatly beneficial to put our emotions to use in a creative way. Maybe during the period of loss, it would be worthwhile journaling the experience so that it becomes a lesson we could share with our children.
Or maybe it would help to have something to look back on in the future. Reminiscence can be a helpful activity should you return to your grief at some time in the future. Preparing for it now will lessen the impact later.
Create a mini habit: something small that will have a positive effect on your health and wellbeing, but does not require large amounts of motivation or discipline. Examples might be:
- eating an apple every day
- doing 5 pushups every day
- walking outside for 20 minutes every day
Creating a routine of easy to fulfill activities can help prevent sliding into bad habits that do nothing to help relieve the sense of loss but instead make it harder to escape because of a general feeling of malaise.
Don’t tie yourself to a timetable. There’s no specific period of time after which you should feel better. It’s important not to create a feedback loop where you blame yourself for the loss. This does nothing to prevent the loss having happened or help you move on in a healthy and constructive way.