Processing Grief in a Healthy Way
Emotions of grief may be triggered by the death of a loved one, the crumbling of a marriage, the passing of a pet, or a broken relationship, just to name a few. It is good and natural that we feel grief through these life circumstances. To think that over time we can just “get over” it is misguided.
What Grief Looks Like
Everyone processes grief differently. We may experience difficulty concentrating, anger, guilt, withdrawal from others, sleep disturbances, irritability, intense sadness or tears, numbness, apathy, loneliness, listlessness, depression, and the list goes on. Sometimes our behaviors seem so irrational that we feel like we are losing it. Often we can be afraid to face our grief because we are afraid if we open that door, the tears or anger will never stop. This is where it is beneficial to let others help us through the grieving process.
If may feel overwhelming and intense, but it is important to remember that these intense feelings are temporary and that acknowledging our feelings will bring about resolution quicker than trying to stop them.
Helping Ourselves During Grief
You have heard it said, “Time heals all wounds.” This is simply not the case. If we do not allow ourselves to grieve in a healthy manner, those wounds may never heal fully. It is important to accept the finality of the loss, acknowledge and release the depth of emotion we feel, adjust to our new life without that person, object, position or experience and to say goodbye.
Here are some practical ways we can help ourselves in the midst of grief:
- Give plenty of time to process
- Expect decreased efficiency and consistency
- Avoid taking on added responsibilities or making major life decisions for a time
- Talk often of memories and grief
- Kindly accept help when offered
- Keep healthy diet and sleeping patterns
- See a counselor
- Read books about grief
- Allow ourselves to enjoy good times free of guilt
- Speak to a spiritual leader
- Plan for special days or holidays as these can be especially difficult
- Do something to help someone else
- Find a grief support group locally or online
Having a good support system is helpful in this process, but often seeing a counselor will help us to sort through thoughts and feelings in a systematic way. Grief counseling can help us:
- Understand the normal stages of grief
- Accept loss
- Work through the normal process of grieving by allowing a safe place to work through feelings
- Focus on specific areas where coping is difficult
- Identify strategies and behaviors to help you cope
- Find comfort in positive memories
We don’t have to go it alone. There is help if we are willing to reach out. If you or someone you love is struggling with loss, contact our office to make an appointment. For our Paducah office call 270-777-4490 for the Owensboro location call 270-215-4000.