Grief is something we unfortunately all go through as human beings with emotions. Typically, when we experience grief, we feel a strong sense of sadness, pain, shock and/or heartbreak, especially when someone in our lives passes away.
Although grief is commonly linked to the death of a loved one, it can also appear when we experience loss in general. Common examples include:
- Losing a friend
- Breaking up with a significant other
- Experiencing parental or personal divorce
- Damaging or losing a sentimental object
- Death of a pet
- and more...
The bottom line is: death and loss are inevitable. So how can we ensure we take care of our mental health during those challenging times? Learn more on my personal thoughts and experiences below.
1. Feeling + identifying your emotions
Grief is so much more complex than sadness. Depending on our personal relationships, memories and experiences with the people or things we lost, our feelings are more comparable to that of a rollercoaster. Yes, at first you might feel sad, but then your mind goes to the last conversation you had with the departed. At this point you might feel guilt, anger, resentment or other emotion depending on how things were left after that interaction.
What I like to do when my emotions are hitting me all at once is to take the time to write how I'm feeling and why -- kind of like journaling. Other useful tips are paying attention to mood shifts, identifying triggers and avoiding the urge to bottle up, ignore or hide emotions. If you're more of a talker than a writer, speaking with a psychologist may be a better solution for you, a point which I touch on later in this blog.
Expressing yourself & stages of grief
Awareness and acknowledgment of our emotions may not only help with the overall healing process, but also allow for better emotional control. This doesn't mean you shouldn't express your feelings. On the contrary, it's perfectly okay to cry, laugh, feel numb and everything else in between.
One thing I've heard is that there are (insert X number here) of stages of grief. However, I feel like it's much more complicated than that. After all, when you look back at your relationship with the person that you lost, do you ever release the memories (good or bad)? As time passes, some people can start/stop grieving based on certain criteria like the type of death, their personal growth and more. Memories are like cling wrap: they usually tend to stick.
Grief is essentially forever; it can be triggered by birthdays, scents, food and more, though its pattern and the way it manifests itself will change over time. So be kind to yourself as you make sense of your loss and try to build a good support system if you don't already have one. A good way to start seeking for help is through therapy.
2. Let's talk: therapy & grief counseling
Therapy, psychology and the way our brains function is a science. Many of us aren't well informed on how to process and heal from trauma, which makes therapy such a great choice. By working with a therapist, you can learn to identify your emotions, talk about your personal situation and get equipped with the necessary tools and information needed to handle life-changing moments. Think of it as a personal treatment plan.
You might be surprised to learn that there are different types of grief. By exploring your own personal situation and perhaps even labelling it, you can better determine and navigate your healing path.
Additionally, therapy can help you improve various symptoms attached to specific mental health conditions, as well as ways to cope with traumatic events like death.
All in all, investing in therapy ensures you are approaching your emotions in a healthy way and taking care of yourself.
3. Have you established a self care routine yet?
Alone time is super precious to me and it should be the same for you too! It's important to note the difference between being alone and feeling lonely, a topic I explore in this blog.
For me, self care means taking time out of the day to focus or do something nice. My favourite ways to take care of myself are lighting candles, dancing to happy beats, taking a day off of work, reading, praying, writing notes and more.
Do you meditate? If so you're in luck! Through the Headspace app, an everyday mindfulness and meditation resource, you can practice a guided meditation on grief. Try Headspace Plus for free by signing up here. Read Headspace blogs on death here.
Whatever you decide to do with your day, do what you love and enjoy! Do whatever it takes (non-harmful) to make you feel at peace, even if it's just for a few moments.
You can learn how to create a self care routine here. According to Living Self Care, practicing personal care can lead to the following:
- An improved lifestyle
- Increased patterns of positive thinking
- Decreased levels of stress, anxiety and depression
- A boost in happiness
- Encourage helpfulness and empathy
What many of us tend to forget is that health is wealth. Our wellbeing is the fuel that energizes our day-to-day lives. So wouldn't it be beneficial to check in with our minds, bodies and souls on a daily basis? Let me know your thoughts below!