Ways to Deal with Sorrow While Moving Through the Stages of Grief
Avoiding Grief Compounds the Problem
Though it is often the hardest thing faced by a person, facing the suffering and feeling the pain is far better than putting it off. Misguided efforts to be brave by avoiding can lead to more pain in the long run.
All must have a time with grief.
At times it seems beyond relief.
You can’t put off or run from grief.
Be with the pain, then feel relief.
Although it seems never-ending, facing the sad feelings will lead toward resolving them, and bring bits of normalcy back into your life.
Move through the Stages of Grief
Watching other people lets you know there are stages of grief. The thing to avoid is getting “stuck” in a stage. Shock and denial are initial reactions, but anger, depression and a need to talk are subsequent and important steps in the process. The final stage of letting go involves a slowly negotiated phase to accept and understand the loss, passing into continued mental health.
Survivor’s guilt can occur. This involves the scary feeling of relief that it didn’t happen to you. This can be helped by knowing such feelings are normal, and forgiving oneself for bring human.
Nurture Yourself at Special Times of Vulnerability
Special occasions, like birthdays and holidays, with all their joy and pageantry, are known to intensify sad feelings. This happens as a grieving person notices all the delights “in the air” and by comparison feels strangely worse. This is a good time to close ranks, inviting only helpful people to be around you, and nurture yourself. Accept the fact that a time which is joyous for many people can put a grieving individual a few steps back. Sometimes nurturing others — be it a person or plant or pet — can empower you with needed emotional energy to survive yet another day.
Cherish Good Memories
It can be helpful to share positive memories about what or whom was lost. Sitting with a friend and looking at pictures or reflecting on stories can be healing even though it may bring cleansing tears. Taking the proactive step to share the grief process with a trusting soul is both reassuring and expressive of hope for life even with its sadnesses.
Help when Your Community Suffers
At times any particular community can be caught up in the tragedy of too much loss, be it storms, death, suicide, or other sadness. It is particularly painful when it involves youth. Adults — parents, teachers and neighbors — can lend a supportive ear to the community’s youth as they struggle with the challenge of profound grief.
A caring community can give those involved both permission to grieve, and assistance in traversing the journey through grief, healing, and growth. Now or later you will be, or befriend, a person in grief. Step up to the plate and express care, empathy and confidence instead of avoidance and artificial cherriness.
Coping with grief of many kinds presents a life-wrenching challenge. By not avoiding the process, one can move through the stages, nurture yourself and others, cherish good memories, help when your community suffers, and steer your life toward healing.
Choose to heal by feeling yet forgiving, even if that process takes time. Write your own script, and make your grief a “Choose your own Ending” experience.