Coping with losing someone or something you hold dear is one of the hardest challenges in life. In most cases, the pain can be devastating. You could go through a whole range of sudden, complex emotions, from disbelief to guilt to very deep sadness. The experience can also affect your physical health, making it hard to sleep, eat, or even think right.
These reactions are, of course, normal. But though there are no right or wrong ways to grieve, there is an approach that helps make everything easier.
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Grieving gives you all the more reason to take care of yourself. The stress brought on by this experience can readily use up your emotional and physical strength. That’s why looking after your physical and emotional needs is important as you go through this challenging time.
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You can try to stifle your grief, but not forever. Confronting your pain is critical to healing. If you shun feelings of loss and sadness, you only make yourself grieve longer. Unresolved grief can also bring complications, such as anxiety, depression, drug abuse and illness.
Tangible or Creative Expression
Your grief becomes easier to process when you express it in some creative or tangible form. For instance, write about it in your journal. If a loved one just died, write a letter saying everything you never had a chance to say; make a photo album that celebrates the person’s life; or be part of a cause or organization that your loved one was passionate about.
Remember that your mind is connected to your body. When you are physically healthy, you will be able to process your emotions better. Fight stress and fatigue by sleeping, eating and exercising enough. Skip alcohol or drugs which only numb your pain or lift your mood temporarily.
Hobbies and Interests
There’s comfort going back to the things you used to do, especially those that you always enjoyed. The pain always lessens as you connect with other people again. However, don’t let them force you into feeling this or that, and don’t force yourself either. Your grief is its own, and nobody can impose when you should let go or move on. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is you feel, without judgment or embarrassment. Let yourself cry or not cry, be mad, or even laugh or smile at those small moments of joy.
As you try to resolve your grief and pain, prepare for “triggers,” like anniversaries, holidays and other events that can cause memories and feelings to come flooding back. Most importantly, remember that this is completely normal. Again, face the pain and deal with it, but not without expressing it, whether verbally or otherwise.