How To Deal With The Impact Of Grief And Loss

Dealing with grief is part of the human experience.  It is something everybody encounters in their life.  Death or loss of a loved one is not the only form of primary grief, it presents in many ways – relationship break up, changing schools, loss of a job, moving house, loss of a treasured object / photos / family heirloom, health loss/reduction due to injury or sickness. 

There are also secondary losses that occur because of the primary loss – losing a partner may impact financial security, family structure, family roles. 

One of the main reasons coping with grief can be so complex, confusing, and painful is because it impacts everyone differently.  There is no set rulebook to follow when you are dealing with grief and coping with grief. Loss and grieving are personal, and the effects are layered by other factors that can determine that length and depth of the grieving process. 
  • How to deal with grief? 
  • How to overcome grief?
  • How do I cope with grief?
  • What does grief feel like?
  • What helps grieving?
  • How do you deal with grief? 
These are common questions asked by clients when they present to counselling seeking help to cope with grief.   Firstly, I think it is helpful to recognise that grief is a normal human process, so the first step towards overcoming or dealing with grief is to acknowledge this.  You are not alone; this is a shared human experience. 

Secondly, being aware of your emotions and feelings, understanding what grief feels like to you, emotionally, physically, mentally is most helpful.  Becoming intimate with your emotions and exploring them in the body (when im sad I notice my breathing is shallow, my posture changes, I notice a tingling in my tummy, I hang my head low, I fidget with my fingers) helps you cater for that emotion as it is happening.  

For example – when I am frustrated/impatient my jaw tightens, I feel this heat energy in my chest, my thoughts begin a story loop, so to cater for these emotions when they arise, I loosen my jaw, I open my chest out arms stretched to create space and allow my breath to be natural, I practice mindfulness to establish presence. This is self-care and it helps dealing with grief. 

Loss and grieving can offer a wide range of mixed and confusing emotions – from shame, anger, elation, sadness, shock, disbelief, guilt, loneliness, fear, liberation.  The list is endless. How to deal with grief depends on how you deal or cope with emotions that are available throughout the grieving process. 

How do you deal with grief?

I often ask How do you deal with anger or guilt?  What is your current strategy, does it work for you short term/long term, and do you need to learn strategies that not only help you cope with grief, but help you cope with other difficult, pervasive emotions? 

Your physical health and behaviour are as important as your emotional well-being when dealing with grief.  Treating yourself with care and kindness is essential practice in dealing with grief.  Nurturing yourself physically by eating well, spending time in nature, exercising and developing a sleep routine help to cope with grief. Physical actions stimulate emotional change.  

Grief can be an emotional rollercoaster. Avoiding the necessary emotions that arise with grief and loss may well extend the grieving process.  The heaviness of loss does fade in time, and to heal is to grieve.  Permit yourself to feel all the emotional offerings of grief without judgment and restrictions.  

Here are some self-care strategies that help you cope with grief and loss

  • Allow yourself time to grieve, there is no healing time frame
  • Acknowledge that grief is a normal human process
  • Connect with your emotions, write down what you are experiencing
  • Be kind to yourself, treat yourself (massage, nature walks, movies, music)
  • Stay connected with friends and family
  • Limit alcohol & drugs
  • Create positive, loving memories
  • Look after your health, exercise, and eat well
  • Understand that others may not know what to say to you. They may have the best intentions but fail to express them.
  • Develop a consistent pattern of sleep
Mindful Health Counselling provides specific grief and loss counselling.  Counselling can help you understand that grief is not a problem that needs to be solved, but a human experience that requires support, validation, acceptance, and recognition.
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