Grief. Such a strong word with so much connotation. Is it a loss of your family member? A friend? A relationship? Or one of the greatest basketball players of our generation? No matter what your loss or how you experienced it, the process of healing has a pattern.
Some may say that their experience is worse than others, that may be true. But everyone's feelings count. So whether you are dealing with a small or major loss this article will give you some tools on how to cope.
Let's start with the five stages of grief:
Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance
When I first lost my mom it was a rollercoaster of these emotions. It did not hop from denial to acceptance, No sir! It went from denial to anger, back to denial, to depression, more anger, somewhat acceptance and then bargaining. In no way was this process clean. It was a mess. I was a mess. I am still somewhat of a mess.
The most important thing for me was to accept that I will be a mess. Take this moment right now to allow yourself to feel everything you need to feel! Let yourself feel the denial, anger, depression, and other stages. Let yourself fluctuate between different moods and let it be.
Controlling the world is something we cannot do. We also cannot go in the past and change things. We have to learn how to let things go.
Tips on getting through the 5 stages of grief:
This one is the shocking stage. It's not believing what happened. Looking through photos thinking, "it can't be true".
Tips on getting through denial:
-Acknowledge you are in denial
-Be kind to yourself. This is not the time to have blame or guilt. Guilt is a natural response to grief. During that time you must maintain as much self-compassion as possible.
-Remember it's a temporary feeling
-Once the shock fades, the healing may begin.
Keep in mind that any of these stages can linger as much as they want. Some of us are uncomfortable with anger while others relish in this stage.
Tips on getting through anger:
-Let yourself feel angry! Give in to the feeling, don't deny it. It is there for a reason.
-With self-compassion, you can allow yourself to be angry about the loss
-Channel your anger in productive ways. You can go on a run, take a boxing class, or go to a designated place to break stuff. Yes, they exist.
None of these stages are fun and bargaining is not an exception. This is the stage where you struggle to find meaning and looking for the answers. This is the part where you "make a deal" for things not to happen again. This is where the "what ifs" begin to creep in.
I was in and out of this stage for a long time when my mom passed away. I always would bargain and say, "but what if she stayed home a little longer?" "what if I didn't let her leave that day?" These are all normal responses in the grief process and also painful.
Tips on getting through bargaining:
-Let your mind process what happened. This is a natural step in the healing process. Let it happen.
-Seek as much support as you can. This is anything from starting therapy or hanging out with a friend or writing in a journal. Let yourself get that support no matter what
-Guilt is also common in this stage. And in comes the self-compassion
This comes up when there are no bargaining deals. It is easy to feel overwhelmed, sad, and hopeless. As difficult as it is also part of the healing process. Depression represents the reality of the loss.
Tips on getting through depression:
-You will a natural inclination to isolate yourself. This is fine, but remember to have your support system
-Remember that your support system is there for you. Let them in once in a while so you can feel something else during this stage
-Take some time to write in a journal or go on a walk
-Let yourself mourn the loss
-Exercise when you have a moment. This will help you get out of the depressive slump when you need it. You need to be there for yourself when you are alone.
-Don't forget to eat.
This is what we strive for. In reality, it may take a while to get here and have back and forth from the other stages. It's ok. It takes time to get here. In Acceptance, your emotions begin to stabilize. It doesn't mean you become "happy" things happened. It is more of a feeling of dealing with it.
When I entered the acceptance stage of my grief it was still challenging. For me, I knew I would always feel that empty space for my mom. I also knew that there were things I can do to help me feel her around me.
Tips on getting through acceptance:
-Do something you loved to do together. This can be any kind of meal you would make together, activity, or tradition.
-Make something your own. If a tradition is not your forte then create something that reminds you of your loss.
-Be prepared for the bad days. Even though you are in this stage does not mean the other stages won't appear. It can be either conscious or unconscious (Yes, you can experience these stages in your dreams too).
-Continue to be social and exercise
I know that this is a tough subject, but I hope that these tips help you even the slightest bit. If you have any questions or comments please don't hesitate to contact me.
I'm here for you,