Losing a loved one can cause us indescribable grief. Sometimes there are no words for the pain we feel, the emotional anguish that can leave us reeling for years afterwards. There is no one way to grieve, but there are some ways to help ourselves through the process.
Be with people who understand your pain, who can empathize, and who make you feel safe to talk, cry or express anger. Avoid being with people who tell you to “get over it,” who try to rush the mourning process, or who try to sweep the sadness under the rug of positive thinking. Sometimes when we are grieving, the last thing we need to hear is “she’s in a better place,” or “he’s always with you in spirit.” Instead we might need the safe space and the time to express our sadness and have it be met with compassion and empathy.
Sit with the pain rather than trying to avoid it. Grief and the memories we associate it can stay with us for years, sometimes for a lifetime. Trying to pretend it’s not there, or that we’re ok when we’re not, only hurts us more. Stopping ourselves from crying because it hurts too much, or because we don’t feel safe with the people we’re around, can cause us to hold onto that pain energy in unhealthy ways, creating emotional blocks within us. There is a saying that grief is like a river, we must let it flow. Cry when you need to. It can feel so much better to let it out than to bury it. Running from our pain sets us up for all kinds of self-destructive coping mechanisms, emotional problems and addictive behaviors.
Honor your loved ones. This can be done by writing them a letter or a song, lighting a candle for them, or dedicating a special meal or holiday to them. Journal about the memories you shared with them. If you are holding onto anger towards them, or towards yourself in the form of regret or shame, work to forgive and let go of those burdens. Some of us talk to our loved ones who have passed on and continue to receive signs and guidance from them. When our loved ones pass, it can help us to keep their memory alive, to keep them present in our minds and hearts, to share our memories of them with others. When it comes to grief, one of the most damaging things we can do for our mental and emotional health is try to suppress it rather than looking for healthy ways to express it.
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