Overcoming Grief: Healing After Loss

Grief: deep sorrow; the response to loss

Grief is the emotional pain and suffering experienced in response to losing something or someone. It is not uncommon for grief to be overwhelming and for a variety of intense and unexpected emotions to arise throughout the grieving process.

Life After Loss

In the wake of a loss, it is natural to experience feelings of sadness, guilt, anger, disbelief, or even go through periods of feeling disconnected from your emotions. Although typically grief affects someone’s emotional state, it may also affect the physical, social, spiritual, cognitive, and behavioral dimensions of life.

It is important to recognize that there is no “right” way to grieve. Loss is a uniquely personal experience that yields a variety of responses dependent on each individual. Most people associate grief with the death of a loved one, however, any loss can cause grief. Subtle losses, or even a seemingly positive experience, may trigger a grieving process.

Some examples of less discussed losses include:

  • Moving homes
  • Graduating
  • Divorce or breakup
  • Retirement
  • Loss of safety due to trauma
  • Loss of youth
  • Changing jobs
  • Loss of financial security
  • Health concerns
  • Loss of a pet
  • When a close friend moves away
  • Loss of a feeling of purpose

Because of the Coronavirus, you may also be facing:

  • Loss of a routine
  • Loss of (easy) social connection
  • Missing out on yearly family traditions
  • Loss of security about the future

Remind yourself that it is normal and acceptable to grieve, whatever the loss may be. It can be challenging to find healthy ways to process the loss — read along for tips on how to understand and cope with grief.

The Grieving Process & How to Heal

The grieving process takes time, and there is no appropriate timetable for how long it takes to heal. Try to remove any expectations you may have on how quickly you should grieve, or how to move through the process. Be patient and kind with yourself, and allow yourself to process in a way that is natural for you.

How to Deal with Grief and Loss

  • Don’t avoid your emotions. Acknowledge your loss and the pain that comes with it.
  • Accept that grief can trigger a variety of emotions that may feel overwhelming and unexpected. There is nothing wrong with you for feeling this way.
  • Remind yourself that your unique grieving process will be personal to you. Have self-compassion towards whatever healing looks for you, and however long it takes.
  • Seek support from your community of loved ones. Ask for help when you need it, both emotionally and logistically (i.e. tasks and responsibilities that may feel too overwhelming to complete at the moment).
  • Practice self-care. Prioritize your well-being in small and simple ways, such as nourishing your body and making time for rest.

Seek Support & Self Care

The pain of grief may cause you to want to isolate and withdraw. It can feel nearly impossible to do much of anything, but seeking support is a crucial part of assisting you through healing. The comfort and care of others not only removes some of the burden off your shoulders but can bring a sense of encouragement and ease through the hurt.

  • Reach out to your friends and family. Lean on those who care about you to provide stability and connection during a time that may feel so lonely and painful.
  • Consider joining a support group. It can be helpful to share your sorrow with others who have experienced a similar loss. You may find validation, empathy, and solidarity through a support group.
  • Try to maintain your routine. There is stability and comfort in a structure that allows you to connect with the activities that bring you joy. Try to continue participating in the hobbies and interests that are important to you.
  • Express your emotions. The rollercoaster of feelings that come with grief and loss can feel overwhelming and even unbearable. Expressing these feelings in a tangible way can provide an outlet for you to process and sort through the racing thoughts. You can try journaling, painting, songwriting, dancing, or other forms of creative expression.  
  • Remove any expectations you (or others) may have for how you “should” grieve. Allow yourself to feel whatever you feel, free of shame or judgment. Whether you cry, whether you yell, or even whether you can still find moments of joy — all of these experiences are okay.
  • Speak to a mental health professional. A therapist can help you process through the intense emotions and experiences associated with grief and loss. They can help normalize the process and provide coping skills to overcome any obstacles you may face. Simply sitting with a person who will provide unconditional support without fear of judgment can bring healing during difficulty.

Pure Health Center understands how painful and personal grief is. We acknowledge how confusing, lonely, and overwhelming the process can be. Our therapists are here to provide support for you, no matter what type of loss you may be experiencing.

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