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Everyone’s journey of grief and loss is different. Sometimes, unresolved issues or an unexpected loss can leave us completely stunned. Grief doesn’t necessarily involve the loss of life—it can be triggered by the loss of a job, pet, relationship, or home, or can result from a terminal medical condition.
Although grief is an inevitable part of life, a loss is always a challenging situation to cope with. There’s no right way to grieve—and the grief process can bring up a myriad of difficult emotions. No matter what stage of grief you’re in, here are some healthy ways to cope.
Self-care is an essential part of the healing process, helping bereaved individuals build resilience and take care of their mental health. After bereavement, practice self-compassion by eating a balanced diet, exercising, and getting plenty of rest, even if sleeping is disrupted.
Even though it might be hard, talk kindly to yourself, and allow yourself time to navigate the grieving process and heal in your own way. Reflect on meaningful ways to show yourself compassion—whether that involves counseling, taking time off from work, or spending time with loved ones.
It might be tempting to isolate yourself during the grief process—and that’s completely normal. Emotions about the future can lead to sadness, and many people experiencing grief become socially isolated, sad, and lonely. Depression during the grief process isn’t necessarily clinical depression but is usually a natural response to loss.
After experiencing loss, reach out to friends and family members for emotional support. Research shows that social support after bereavement helps reduce the severity of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental health conditions. Not only do social connections combat loneliness, but they also provide listening ears to express grief.
The mind tries to deflect grief—and it’s natural to wish you could go back in time to side-step accepting the present reality. It’s easy to experience a sense of guilt, even when your rational mind knows that self-blame is unreasonable.
Whether you’re navigating the pain of loss or experiencing feelings of guilt, it’s essential to slow down. Take some time to remember the relationship, the person, and how your time together changed both of your lives. You might practice mindfulness in the form of simple mindful thinking in a dark room, or you can use a guided meditation app for extra support.
If you don’t feel comfortable opening up to family members and close friends, or you need some extra emotional support, support groups can be a valuable component of the grieving process. Support groups help bereaved people understand that there’s no “expectation” for grieving—and everyone experiences grief in their own way.
Even if you’re feeling hopeless, bereavement support groups provide an important opportunity to connect with people in similar situations and learn healthy ways to cope with specific challenges. To find a support group, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or GriefShare website, or research your local mental health resources.
While nobody can take away the pain of loss, psychotherapy (talk therapy) provides a safe space to be vulnerable about your thoughts and honor the loss. Many psychologists, counselors, social workers, and other mental health providers offer both in-person therapy and online therapy, so you can access mental health treatment from the comfort of your own home.
During grief counseling or bereavement counseling, your psychotherapist will help you develop healthy coping skills to regain strength. You may wish to reach out if you feel stuck in your grief and having a hard time coming to terms with your loss after an extended time period. Above all else, grief counseling helps bereaved people explore their feelings, emotions, and behaviors, so they can find ways to ease the grieving process.
To find the right therapist, reach out to a mental health professional through WithTherapy. We’ll connect you to an experienced therapist you feel comfortable with based on your personal preferences and requirements. One of our compassionate, licensed mental health providers will help you.