Grief is a response to some form of loss. Most conventionally, it refers to the emotional reaction to the loss of someone dearly loved. But it can refer to many other forms of loss and their effects. Either way, you must process grief and let go to stay mentally healthy.
Those who are grieving go through many difficult processes as they attempt to carry on in a world with this loss. For some, this can go sideways, and they can end up coping with their emotions in negative and harmful ways. How can you prevent that from happening? Here are five positive ways to process grief to move on in life.
1. Let Yourself Feel
Different people tend to react to grief in varied ways. The most positive way to deal with all those reactions, though, is by allowing yourself to truly feel and experience all those painful emotions and minor details, even if it’s tough.
It can be tempting to deny your emotions and repress how you feel, especially since it hurts so much. You may even think that forcing your feelings down will promote healing and recovery, but it’s very much the opposite. The more you repress it, the more it will fester and affect areas of your life in hard-to-detect ways.
If you have trouble processing and feeling grief, begin by intentionally setting aside time to grieve. Don’t run away from your emotions and, in fact, schedule time for those emotions. Let yourself sit down and feel everything wash over you. Cry, rage, bargain – whatever you feel, observe it, watch it, and wait for it to pass. Some days, it won’t pass, and that’s okay too.
Remember, denying your sadness is a surefire way to make it persist for longer. The more you fight it, the more likely you will wind up dealing with mental health disorders and conditions or stronger emotions of frustration, guilt, shame, and fear.
Sadness is not dangerous. Grief is healthy. Approach yourself and your emotions with compassion and show your brain that these feelings are natural and accepted.
2. Don’t Limit Your Perceptions of Grief
There are lots of portrayals of grief in the media that paint it in a very particular light. You may believe that grief is particular and rigid in its rules and that anything outside of that no longer constitutes grief.
This is usually incorrect, as grieving is so complicated and confusing. Limiting how you view grief can make you feel invalid in your emotions, causing you to struggle to recover at all. Here are some tips, so you don’t limit that perception:
· Don’t Put A Time Limit On It
Some people’s grieving process will be concise, but for many, it can take a long, long time to overcome debilitating feelings of grief. That’s okay and valid. It is normal for grief to ebb and flows or take very little time or take years. There’s no such thing as the “right” way to grieve. Believing that grief must be over by a certain point will backfire on you. While it will lessen over time, you can’t predict exactly what trajectory your grief will take.
· Don’t Assume Grief Is Only Sadness
Studies show that grief is very emotionally complex. It is normal to feel emotions that aren’t limited to sadness, and some of these feelings may be ones you’re ashamed of. You may feel happy because a chapter in your life feels closed, and that might make you feel guilty for not grieving correctly. You may feel angry or resentful towards someone you’re grieving over, which may cause you to wonder what’s wrong with you. Understand that these emotions are normal. There is no one way to grieve, and most people experience a colorful array of feelings during the process.
· Don’t Compare Your Grief To The Grief Of Others
Lots of people grieve in lots of different ways. The people who grieve for the same reason as you may appear to cope better on the surface, or they may be less debilitated, or they may exhibit a sorrow you can’t quite reach, or they may genuinely recover very quickly. Their experiences have nothing to do with yours, however. It’s normal to contrast your experiences with other people’s, but remember that you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. In addition to that, there is nothing wrong with grieving uniquely, so take your own time. Your grief is about your feelings and your unique experiences, not anyone else’s.
3. Don’t Rush To Erase The Traces
There’s a general perception that grief involves completely removing all remnants of something for healing to occur. This isn’t true. In some cases, you may find recovery in the act of completely eradicating a memory of a subject of grief, but more often than not, preserving the memory and thinking about it is more helpful. Here is how to do this:
· Talk About It
Whether your grief is from the loss of a loved one, a missed opportunity, or something else, it doesn’t have to be pushed aside and forgotten. Sometimes, people believe that moving on entails leaving behind all traces of what hurts, but that’s not true. Those traces can keep things alive. Talk about what happened with others, reminisce and reflect, and find support in others dealing with similar grief. Share memories of lost loved ones, and you’ll be able to find peace in a world without them.
· Don’t Rush To Clear
If the loss of a loved one causes your grief, then you may want to look through their belongings and throw out or donate some of their stuff. You might even feel pressured to do it. But while hoarding everything isn’t healthy, neither is trying to get rid of things you’re not yet ready to. You will never get rid of some items and remember them or pass them on to others. There are other items that you will, eventually, throw away. Take your time with it, and don’t feel like you have to “purge” your home right away from their memory.
· Think About Impact
If someone you love is now lost, reminisce on the way they’ve changed your life. Think about the lessons they taught you, whether intentionally or inadvertently, and about the good and bad times you shared. If the grief comes from something that’s a missed chance instead of someone gone, then reflect on how it has changed your life and how you can learn from the loss.
· Do Something To Continue A Legacy
If your grief stems from someone who passed away, then do something in their memory. Donate to or volunteer at an organization they were passionate about. Please pass on the wisdom they gave you to others. Incorporate the values you loved in them into your everyday life. Make a little memorial for them, or tell stories of their greatness to others. If your grief stems from things and circumstances instead of people, then remember that the best way to continue such a legacy is not to give up and keep moving forward.
4. Seek Support to Help Process Grief
Grief isn’t something you have to go through alone. You can find positive thinking from being supported, encouraged, and comforted by others. The right kind of social support can play a significant role in recovery and moving on from grief. Here are some ways to find support:
· Request and Accept Comfort
The people closest to you will likely want to comfort you for your loss. If you feel ashamed or embarrassed about your need for this comfort, it’s time to learn to accept that help graciously. You can and should also voice your needs to those trying to help you so that they understand how to help you.
· Find Support Groups
Grief is far from a unique experience. It’s something countless people across the planet have to deal with at least once in their life. This means that there are support groups out there for people who need them. When you’re surrounded by those who understand your pain, you can find encouragement, advice, and motivation from them while providing the same in turn.
· Get Professional Help
There is nothing wrong with needing extra support due to grief. Therapists, counselors, and other mental health professionals are equipped with the tools and knowledge necessary to help you work through your emotions and move on. They can also help you to unpack the more complex intricacies of how you feel.
5. Take Care Of Your Health
When you’re grieving, it’s easy to forget to take care of your physical health. But the state of your body can play a significant role in your grief, and poor health can make it harder to cope, process, and move on.
While you can’t be expected to be the perfect picture of fitness while grieving, make sure that your body is kept in a relatively flattering shape. Here are some things to keep in mind:
· Eat Well
Don’t resort to long periods of emotional eating, as junk foods will only make you feel worse. At the same time, don’t starve yourself out of grief, or you’ll lack the energy necessary to push forward.
· Get Some Physical Activity
You don’t need to crush it at the gym while grieving – though doing so may work off some of the stressed energy. Instead, focus on getting a little movement into your day. Go for walks, do some stretches, and don’t sit or lie still for too long.
· Sleep Enough
Grieving individuals may get too little or too much sleep, depending on their unique response to their emotions. Seek a doctor’s help if you’re unable to sleep or unable to wake up, as you need good sleep to keep up the energy required for healing.
As such a powerful and devastating emotion, it’s alarming to think that every single person is likely to experience grief several times in their life. Still, grief is entirely natural, and it’s something you can work through and process. If you learn to manage and reflect on your feelings with positive thinking, you will move on in your life.