It is easy to feel overwhelmed when grieving. That is a natural experience when someone or perhaps something has been taken away from us. Sometimes it even feels like we have lost half of ourself and we may even wonder if it is worth going on at all. However, if a person is given some basic tools they are usually able to help themselves understand and work through their own grief, at their own pace.
The list of tools here are in no particular order since personal grief is unique to each one of us. For instance you may be feeling an overwhelming sense of loneliness while I may be feeling intense anger. Neither feeling is right or wrong, it is simply where we are. A good place to start looking at a our grief is by simply accepting what we are feeling without judgment. By acknowledging and accepting where we are and what we are feeling we can begin our own personal grief journey.
By looking at the list and trying different types of tools we will find the ones that work best for each of us. Each tool has a true person story in the story section that will help illustrate the tool in a useful way. These may seem like simple tools but they can be powerful vehicles for growth while guiding us through this process of grief.
The old saying ‘Pull your self up by your boot straps and get on with life’ does not help someone who is grieving. In order to get on with life, we must first face our grief and then do our work. Giving yourself permission to grieve makes the process easier and perhaps promotes faster healing.
It is a normal fear of most that if they let themselves really feel all the pain they fear they are keeping inside, that they will either go crazy or be so overwhelmed that they will never stop crying. There is a great deal of pain there for sure but it can be managed by doing a simple technique. One thing that I often suggest that you set an alarm clock for 15 minutes per day when you can give some attention and time to your grief.
Once it is set, look at pictures of the deceased, listen to sad music, or whatever it is you want to do to get in touch with the memories of that person. This will take you right to the pain. Then when the alarm goes off, you will know that you have done some of your grief work and that it is ok now to focus upon life and living. This will help, because you will know that you can come back and do it again as often as you need. Just like tipping a full glass, it is like emptying yourself of some of the pain so that there is some room for breathing.
There is nothing so scary as to NOT KNOWING what is happening to ourselves when we are grieving. I always encourage everyone to research and gain information regarding grief and the work it entails. The unknown can be scarier than the facts. By simply knowing things such as it is normal to wonder if we will ever make it through the depths of our grief to the other side, can make the process smoother. Knowing and understanding does not make for less pain just a comprehension that if nothing more it will be manageable one day.
When a person is grieving others who have or have not lost someone by death ‘know what’s best’. They mean well but will never be able to know what is or is not best for you. We as individuals have trouble in the best of time to understand ourselves so why do we think some one else can do better? It is very important for a person to listen to themselves. What is it that will help me? By asking these questions we will start to see what helps us and what does not. Trust yourself to know what is best.
_Crying is healthy when we are grieving. Many people, especially men try to hold it in thinking they can handle it themselves. The trouble with that is that the pain is really in control of you not the other way around. If not dealt with, the pain can affect your thought process, your faith, your physical wellbeing not to mention the relationships with your family and friends. To make it manageable (crying) see:
Laughing is just as healing as crying. For some people it is easier to get in touch with their grief by laughing. That does not mean that they are not feeling the pain of the loss but by laughing they are letting some of the stress and pain loosen its grip upon them. Many who are grieving find that by renting out a comedy and having a good laugh really does make them feel better. And I want you to know that by laughing YOU ARE NOT FORGETTING your loved one, just taking care of yourself and doing your work.
Writing a letter to the deceased can be very therapeutic. For it can help release pain and to put life into perspective. I suggest that after the first draft of the letter is written, to sit it aside for two weeks and then to reread it and make sure it says everything you need it too. There is no right or wrong way to write a letter to the deceased. Once you are satisfied that the letter says all you need it to, then I suggest that you either burn it, bury it, tear it up It is a symbolic way of releasing it, letting it go.
Keeping a journal is another way to take the pain from inside and get it out. It is a record of your journey and a recording of your progress. It tells you where you have been and what you were feeling at the time and just how far you have come.
Have you ever seen someone in the car next to you singing at the top of their lungs? As funny as it is, it is also healthy. The tension that we hold in our bodies when we are grieving can be very unhealthy and can lead to our own illness. Finding a safe place to release that tension by screaming/shouting/hallowing can really help one relax.
It is perfectly alright to give yourself a time out from grief,a time away. Many people will feel like they are not respecting their loved one if they are not feeling sad all the time. The reality is that we need to have a break whether that’s to go out with friends and have some laughs or to go fishing. It does NOT mean we are not grieving but that we need some space from the pain in order to heal as well.
See Take the time to do your grief work above.
Music can touch us in ways that words alone can not. We often associate people and places by music. Music acts as a sort of memory trigger. For some people listening to music is relaxing and renewing while for others the chance that they may hear a song that will remind them of the person they have lost is just too much to worry about. So they may for some time decide to stay away from listening to music altogether.
Our environment often holds painful memories of the person we have lost. In order to get a break from the pain a change of scenery (somewhere totally new to you) is a good option. Take some time away, perhaps that much needed vacation. It will not stop you from missing the person but perhaps it will provide a place where the memory of your loved being there can’t be seen everywhere you look.
Our bodies need energy to do this work of grief. It is important to eat and eat what is good for you. Sometimes when a person is grieving they can go to food as a source of comfort. The problem with it is that food can not replace that person and eating too much or the wrong stuff can affect your health as well.
On the other hand many people find that they have no appetite after a death of a loved one. It is then just important for them to eat regular meals, not to skip meals just because they do not feel like eating. Our bodies struggle when we are grieving. We need all the help we can get and by eating sensibly, we can recharge our battery somewhat.
Exercise may be the last thing a person feels like doing when grieving. However the benefits affect many areas of their life. Exercise increases energy, improves appetite, makes us more relaxed for sleep, and can affect such feelings such as our own inner self confidence.
Our long time friends are usually a source of comfort for they know us and we know them. A great deal of the time we do not have to even say how we are feeling for them to know.
Even though we think our families and our friends will be there for us, the chances are that most of them will not be able to be. Sometimes it is because they themselves are in too much pain to be there for us. Other times they mean well but they try to make us better by telling us all kinds of things that are not helpful. They can not fix us for we are not broken just deeply bruised.
When we are grieving we are a like a car battery. The trouble is that we are being depleted faster than we are recharging. Caffeine takes what little bit of energy we have and uses it up incredibly fast leaving us more depleted than ever. Alcohol just depresses us even more (as if we need it to do that) or delays the healing process by keeping us numb.
One of the most debilitating feelings that can stop us in our tracks is anxiety and or panic. Once we start to worry its like a snow ball coming down the hill it just picks up speed until we crash. Creative visualization can trick the mind into believing that it has no reason to panic producing a sense of calm.
We need to know all we can regarding our loved ones death. It helps us to come to terms with their death and acceptance of the fact that they are really gone for ever.
Many people expect that they will get over this grief thing fairly fast without much trouble. In a few cases, that is true but for most of us it is a long journey. However, it is important for us not to compare ourselves with what others have done nor set a time limit for our grief to be over. Being hard on ourselves and expecting too much out of ourselves just sets us up to fall flat. The most important thing we can be to and for our selves is kind, tolerant and patience.
Though out history, people have lost loved ones because they have died. Even though many people in your life have had that experience, they do not know YOUR EXPERIENCE OF GRIEF OR WHAT WILL WORK FOR YOU. The experience of grief is personal. Some of the things that helped one person may not help another. Seek information on grief or take a grief program but remember only you can say for sure what works best for you.
There are many wonderful support groups for people who are grieving. Attending a support group not only gives a person a safe place to share their pain but also provides information and tools that will be a further help in their grieving journey. Your local hospice group will be able to provide you with some help or have the resources that will help you find a support group. If neither of these are available, the ten session grief support program that is offered on this web site can be the place to start your journey of grief. (Ten session grief support program coming soon.)
Your world has changed and will never be the same. What you believed to be the future is no longer the same. In other words your world view has changed. Adjusting to that new world view is a long process. We must rethink what we have always believed to be true and find a new way to view the world