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How to cope with grief

Category: Grieving

Losing someone you love can take you on a journey through some of the most painful and unexpected emotions you may ever experience. So, how do you begin to cope with the grieving process?

Coping with grief is so personal and each person will cope in a different way, but it is worth knowing there are different approaches to try. Some may suit you, some may not.

Grief over time

For many, it is helpful to try to understand grief a little better. Often people feel they are not coping with grief; they are struggling to ‘move on’, the pain is not lessening and they feel that in fact, time is not a healer.

Dr Lois Tomkins challenges this notion by explaining that grief does not disappear with time, but in fact it is always there, we just grow around it.

To understand this concept more clearly, imagine drawing a circle to represent yourself, your current life experiences and your grief. As a whole circle, the grief may be entirely consuming your life. You may feel unable to eat or sleep, or find yourself struggling to think about anything else.

As time passes however, rather than the circle growing smaller, an outer circle (representing your life following your loss) emerges and slowly grows. You will have new experiences and begin to find moments of joy. Your inner circle doesn’t disappear and may feel a little bigger at times, but gradually, it is no longer the dominant feature.

Getting the support you need

Whilst you are grieving it is important to use the support around you. Even if you find it difficult to talk, try your best to open up and reflect on how you are feeling with those around you. Talk about the one you have lost and the memories you have of them, however painful this may be.

Consider seeking support from a talking therapy and find one that suits you. This may be a grievance counsellor, a support group or a charity such as Mind UK. The professionals here will be able to give you an insight into how best to cope with your own personal grieving journey.

Working on your physical and mental wellness

It is also important to acknowledge the physical side of the grieving process. This experience takes its toll on your body. Many people feel run down, tired, unable to sleep, or experience forgetfulness. Some people are even tempted to numb their feelings with food, alcohol, drugs or over-working. But these are merely temporary escapes, which will not help you to heal and may in fact cause further pain down the line.

During this time it is important to think about how you are looking after your physical health as well as your mental health. Many people find self-care difficult during this time but in fact this is the time you need to care for yourself the most.

Eat a healthy, balanced diet rich with vegetables, healthy fats such as olive oil and plenty of protein. Try to take on regular exercise or frequent walks outdoors. Attempt to get enough sleep and if you are struggling with sleep, perhaps try mediation before bed. There are many apps that offer guidance with this and it can be of huge benefit to help calm your mind.

Treating yourself with kindness…

Above all, it is essential that you are gentle with yourself. Do little things every day that comfort you and make you happy. Remember you are allowed to grieve for as long as you may need to and in the way that you feel is best.