How to Deal with Grief
Whether loss occurs suddenly or gradually over time, grief inevitably follows suit. One may find themself bombarded by a seemingly bottomless supply of complex emotions, making it difficult to determine how to deal with grief. However, it is important to remember that grief is not a state of being but a journey that ebbs and flows as you walk with it through life. When faced with loss, learning how to deal with grief is the first step to achieving a sense of peace.
Table of Contents
- How To Face Grief - An Overview
- Facing Grief - Accepting The Loss
- Facing Grief - Processing The Loss
- Facing Grief - Readjusting To Life
- Facing Grief - Maintaining A Last Connection With The Loved One
- Seek Support
- Conclusion: Dealing With Grief
How to Face Grief - An Overview
While our first instinct may be to resist these feelings of grief, it is essential to embrace them and fully feel them. NPR writes of a concept developed by psychologist William Worden, detailing four main tasks of grief: accepting the loss, processing the loss, readjusting to life, and finally, maintaining a lasting connection with the loved one.
Accepting the Loss
Accepting the loss can be very challenging. While feeling grief can be difficult, Healthline experts suggest it’s actually best to allow yourself to feel the pain and take your time to mourn. It’s not only okay, it’s healthy to submit to the emotions you are experiencing. Though it might not feel that way in the moment, doing so is actually a critical step in accepting the loss.
Processing the Loss
Processing the loss requires a lot of introspection, as well as communication with friends, family members, therapists and other members of your medical team. In his NPR feature, Worden explains that part of processing the loss is treating this task just as you would any other item on your to-do list. You know you must do laundry, sign your child’s permission slips for school, and cook dinner. Processing your grief is just as important. In fact, it could be viewed as even more critical, since it permits you the mental space to achieve the other tasks integral to your day.
Readjusting to Life
Readjusting to life cannot be rushed. It can only be achieved through proper processing of what has happened and coming to terms with your new reality. Don’t expect to return to “normal” after someone you love has passed on. Instead, plan on a new normal, one that will certainly have many beautiful moments, but one in which you must also coexist with your grief.
Maintaining a Last Connection with the Loved One
Daily life will become easier as time passes, but you won’t ever fully “get over” the death of someone you care about. This common misconception can do those who are grieving more harm than good; there’s little good in spending your time upset and frustrated, waiting for a complete “recovery” and sameness that just isn’t possible. Instead, understand that your life will slowly get to a more comfortable place, and you will find joy again, more and more as time goes on.
Maintaining a lasting connection with your loved one is an essential part of dealing with your grief. No matter what your spiritual or religious beliefs, there are ways to keep the memories of the person you lost alive with you always. When something reminds you of them, don’t push the thoughts away. Instead, allow yourself time to cry, reflect, and share your memories. Cook your loved one’s favorite meals, frame a photo of them for your mantle, and think of them often. Recall their best qualities and allow yourself to embody those characteristics as you go about your life. In this way, your connection to your loved one will not be lost.
Grief is something one learns to live with, not power through. Unlike the stages of grief–denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance–the four main tasks possess a sort-of call to action. Embracing these tasks allows you to fully feel the extent of the grief while finding a sense of purpose.
Treating the four tasks of grief like tasks in your everyday life can help you move through these feelings. Remember, there is no time pressure. These “tasks” do not need to be completed by a certain date. These steps were created to understand the process of grieving better and help you navigate the murky waters.
The American Psychological Association (APA) notes the strength in talking to loved ones about your loss. Reaching out can help you understand your feelings and process what has happened. Talking to others who are grieving can also make dealing with grief feel less isolating. Grief is an internal process, but that does not mean that you have to deal with it alone.
The conversations don’t have to circle around loss and instead can focus on life. Helping others deal with their grief can help you better process your own, give you insight into what you need to grow. It all boils down to this: despite the natural inclination to retreat when dealing with grief, reaching out to your loved ones and support system is critical to the healing process.
Lastly, do not forget to celebrate life. Finding ways to celebrate the life of those you have lost can be immensely healing. It acknowledges the impact their life has had on you and those around you. Many people choose to donate to charities on anniversaries or get together with loved ones in remembrance. These celebrations create a sense of community, a bond between loved ones that can bring a sense of happiness during dark times.
Conclusion: Dealing with Grief
“Moving on” can be a harsh and insensitive phrase; however, the ultimate goal of the grieving process is to achieve a sense of peace where the joys of life can still be experienced. Navigating how to deal with grief can be an overwhelming process with no end in sight, but remember not to shy away from grief and to seek support when you can. It is necessary for healing and will ease its intensity over time.
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