When we experience a loss and it’s accompanying grief and mourning, it is important to take care of our own needs, even if that means disappointing others at times. All of the strong emotions that are involved can be confusing, distressing, and always changing. Often we can feel several emotions at once, from anger, fear, sadness, relief, and even joy. While the pain of loss is not something to be raced through, there are ways to make the process more effective and tolerable. The following article, written by Jane Simington, PhD, offers 10 helpful tips to move through the grieving process a bit more comfortably.
1. Acknowledge the losses
- Share with someone
- Work it through on paper
- Journal writing- make your journal writing reflective (What I did; what I learned; what I would do differently. Reflect on the growth process taking place for you).
- Professional help can be valuable
- Support groups work for some people
2. Expect and accept the signs of grief.
- Denial – shock, numbness
- Anger: internal (toward self); external (toward others, even towards God)
- Depression – anxiety, deep and pervasive sadness
3. Accept your own feelings
- The first step in managing feelings is to acknowledge them
- Acknowledging feelings, can, in itself, often lessen their intensity
- This does not mean we need to dwell on them
- After examining feelings we are often better able to find ways to deal with them and then release them
4. Become aware that loss and trauma have effects on every aspect of humanness.
- Difficulty sleeping, eating and digestive problems
- Chest pain and palpitations
- Headaches and backaches
- One-track thinking and difficulty making decisions
- Anxiety and fear and an inability to trust
- Know that these are signs that you need to take care of yourself, physically, emotional, mentally and spiritually
5. Acknowledge self-responsibility for healing.
- Frequent hot baths help some
- Regular massage can ease tightened muscles
- Physical exercise has been shown to decrease depression and increase self-esteem
- Consider taking anti-stress-rich foods and vitamins (A,C,E,B Complex).
6. Stay alert for any old wounds this may open for you.
- Any new loss or trauma can reopen unhealed wounds of past losses or past trauma. This can leave us grieving from multiple losses
7. Protect yourself from adding more losses.
- We tend to want to escape from uncomfortable situations. This can cause us to make choices that can cause us further loss. We may desire to relocate or to change jobs. While this may work out well in the end, it does make us more vulnerable because then, instead of healing from one loss we end up facing the multiple losses that any change brings.
- If possible wait a couple of years after a major loss before making major decisions
8. Decrease stimulants.
- Monitor the use of alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, drugs
- These substances provide an immediate high but a long term low, and they each have less than positive side effects
9. Find ways to bring more balance into your life.
- Human beings needs balance (too much or too little can causes disharmony and disorganization)
- Take care to modify stimulation in all areas of life (home, work, family, larger environment)
- Increase quiet times
- Increase meaningful times with special people
10. Honor your inner strength.
- Deep breathing
- Meditation, guided imagery, visualization
- Centering prayer
- Believe in yourself
- Reflect on how far you have already come and celebrate the successes
Copyright Jane Simington, PhD Taking Flight International