5 Grief Coping Tips in the Wake Of Unexpected Loss
No matter how happy and well-adjusted you are, when you unexpectedly lose a loved one, are diagnosed with a serious illness, or undergo an unwanted change of status - such as a divorce, or job loss - feeling grief is normal. Everyone experiences grief and loss differently, and there's no one "right" way to mourn or work through your feelings
Sonora Foster at the Manasquan Counseling Center located in Manasquan is committed to helping women, men, and children move through grief to find joy in life after loss. Here she offers five tips to help you through the grief when faced with loss:
1. Be patient
Working through grief takes time. Psychiatrist and author Elizabeth Kübler-Ross outlined the five stages of grief that people go through when faced with a terminal illness. Many of these emotions are also experienced by women, men, and children who face other types of loss, such as the death of a loved one or the end of an important relationship:
- Denial - feeling like this couldn't be happening; feeling numb or in shock
- Anger - wanting to blame someone, such as a doctor, for the loss
- Bargaining - wishing you could change the situation; feeling guilty, wondering "what if" you'd done things differently
- Depression - feeling empty or overwhelmed, uninterested in activities you used to enjoy
- Acceptance -making peace with your new reality and beginning to move forward
You may pass through all of these stages at different times and in multiple ways. They're all a normal reaction to feeling that you've lost control of an important aspect of your life.
Even years after the loss, you may sometimes feel sad or angry about it. Give yourself permission to move through the stages of grief and get the support you need at each stage.
2. Treat yourself kindly
Grief can be exhausting mentally and physically. If you're overwhelmed with grief, ask family members and friends to help with housework and meal preparation. Surround yourself with people and things you love, including objects of beauty such as plants or flowers.
Take time to listen to music, read a book, journal about your feelings, and meditate whenever you feel stressed or overcome with sadness. Make sure you eat healthy food regularly and make sleep a priority. Understand that you may not be functioning at your peak, so let yourself have extra time to accomplish daily tasks.
3. Maintain your day-to-day routine
As much as possible, stay in the normal rhythms of your life. Though you may need some time off from work or other activities, your regular routine can be a source of solace.
Sticking to a regular schedule also makes you feel more in control of your life. Though you've lost something or someone important, much of your daily life is still the same and just as valuable as it was before.
4. Put the breaks on major life changes
If you've lost a major relationship or a job, or if a child or spouse died, you may be tempted to restart your life by moving to a new town, starting a new relationship, or even having a child. Though the excitement of initiating action may mute some of the uncomfortable feelings of loss and grief, you shouldn't make drastic life changes until you've had time to process your loss.
Changing things too quickly might actually trigger more feelings of loss, compounding your initial grief. Give yourself time to adjust to your new circumstances before making drastic changes to your life or environment.
5. Get the support you need
Though you may feel alone in your loss and believe that no one can understand its impact on your life, sharing your feelings with others can actually help you work through them. If your friends and family don't understand your level of grief, join a support group at your church, in your community, or even online. For instance, if you've been diagnosed with a terminal illness, chatting with others anonymously online who are dealing with the same issues you are can make you feel less alone and may also give you insights and tips into how to cope with your symptoms.
Sonora Foster is ready to listen and help, too. If your grief interferes with your ability to move on with your life, or if you find yourself struggling with depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts, she will teach you how to process your feelings so you can be happy again.
Call today for grief and loss counseling, or send us a message with the online form.
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