12 Practical Ways To Cope With Grief
Everyone approaches grief in their own way. There is no guidebook for grief that you can follow. Instead, you’ll have to explore different coping mechanisms to find the methods that work best for you.
Some people respond well to sharing their grief with a support group, while others may find that they feel better when they are able to keep distracted and focus on their health. As we’ve said, there is no right way to grieve, but there are tried and tested ways that can help you to cope and move on.
If you’re struggling with grief at the moment, these coping strategies might help you to find closure and move on with your life.
Understand your grief
The first step to being able to cope with grief is to understand what is happening to you. Grief affects everyone in a different way, but you can expect to go through the stages of grief. The stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
This might not be a linear journey, and you might find that you skip back and forth between the steps. But by understanding what you are going through, you’ll be one step closer to managing your grief more effectively.
Take a step back
Taking on too much responsibility while you are trying to grieve might be a mistake. If you begin to feel overwhelmed by simple things like sticking to plans you’ve made with friends, it might be a good idea to take a step back for a while.
Watching life go on around you can be incredibly distressing, which is why it can be helpful to take a step back from everything and give yourself time to grieve properly.
Grief might make you want to hibernate and stay indoors. Or it could make a walk around the nearest park feel like an insurmountable task. But fresh air and exercise could be just the thing you need to get some perspective and to clear your head.
Try to start the day with a long walk to help clear your mind and start the day on the right foot. The morning is often the clearest part of the day for those going through the grieving process. By getting it out of the way in the morning, you won’t have to contend with guilt as the day moves on.
Grief can diminish your appetite, but it’s important that you continue to eat healthy meals at least 3 times a day. If you’re struggling to eat healthy meals, try preparing larger meals you can put in the freezer once a week.
You could also ask for help from friends if you are really struggling to cook meals. They might be happy to cook extra portions of food or prepare large dishes that you can simply pop in the oven. You’ll need your strength as you move through the grieving process, so don’t neglect your diet.
It can be tempting to turn to those substances that will numb the feelings and make everything temporarily better, but alcohol will only intensify your emotions. If you start drinking while you’re sad, alcohol will only make you feel more depressed.
By avoiding alcohol, you’ll also avoid the dreaded hangovers which can make grief feel even more intense.
Create a keepsake
Creating a small keepsake to remind you of the person you have lost is a highly effective way to manage your grief. Ashes jewellery is an excellent choice to help you cope with grief.
Ashes jewellery contains a small amount of cremated remains. This type of keepsake can help you to feel closer to your loved one and may bring you a lot of comfort when you need it the most. Ashes jewellery is suitable for everyday wear, or you might only wear it for special occasions.
Talk about it
Speaking to a professional about your grief might help you to process some of your feelings. Grief is often a mixture of feelings, including anger, guilt and fear. By talking to a counsellor about what you are going through, you may be able to take control of your feelings and understand why you are feeling certain things.
You don’t have to talk to a professional. Friends and family may also offer a friendly ear and a shoulder to cry on. Sharing stories with other people who are grieving could also prove to be incredibly cathartic.
Stick to a routine
It’s tempting to let your grief determine how you spend your days, particularly if you have taken time off work following your loss. But turning your routine on its head – or completely doing away with any sense of routine – could lead you to feel more depressed and anxious.
Routine is important as it will help to make sure you are eating right, getting exercise, drinking enough water, and sleeping at night. Try to stick to a routine as much as possible, even if all you achieve is eating 3 meals, drinking plenty of water, going for a walk and sleeping 8 hours at night.
Join a support group
Grief can be a lonely place. Getting to know other people who are going through the same things you are going through can be a huge relief. Grief support groups will not only give you a non-judgmental place to talk about your grief, but they may also give you some coping mechanisms to help you manage your feelings.
Support groups aren’t for everyone, but it’s worth exploring if you feel isolated or lonely in your grief. The individuals who run these groups are skilled in helping individuals to open up about their grief, even if they are typically very private people.
Find a new hobby
Grieving can make you question things about your life and make you crave new experiences. This is why taking up a new hobby can be very helpful. A new hobby could serve as a distraction from your grief and help you to start planning for the future.
Depression can make it difficult to think ahead, as the future doesn’t feel like a guarantee anymore. By plunging yourself into a new hobby, you can distract yourself, keep your mind occupied, and start to create new routines.
Learn to spot triggers
As you start to come to terms with your loss, you might notice that certain things can trigger strong emotional reactions. This could be photographs, songs, TV shows, films, certain foods or even mundane places that you visited together like the supermarket.
As you learn to cope with grief, you will eventually see patterns in your triggers. While some people choose to avoid them, others find it is helpful to simply be aware when a wave of sadness is coming.
Take your time
There is no time limit on grief. And you're not waiting for it to get smaller or take up less space in your head. Instead, try to think of your life growing around your grief. The grief is still present in your life, and it isn’t going to get any smaller, but as you add experiences around it, you will grow and be better equipped to deal with it.
The most important piece of advice we could give to anyone dealing with grief is to simply give it time, and the worst of it will eventually pass.