How To Handle Grief and Loss: Normalizing the Emotions

We live in a culture that prefers to not talk openly about grief, loss, and death. Meanwhile, every single one of us will experience grief, loss, and death. Why is something so universal treated as if it were uncommon? We all have our personal losses. In addition, we’re each part of a community that can be suddenly impacted by events like natural disasters or devastating acts like mass shootings.

Grief and loss are inevitable. Therefore, it only seems logical to normalize the ensuing emotions. Though it’s logical… it’s easier said than done. Let’s take a closer look at this situation.

How Most People Handle Grief and Loss

Grief and loss provoke a broad range of emotions, e.g. anger, sorrow, denial, and guilt. Processing the event and the feelings is a daunting process. As a result, many counterproductive coping mechanisms have become the norm. For example:

  • Comparing your process to others
  • Denying the depth of your sorrow
  • Repressing strong feelings
  • Limiting yourself in terms of time and energy you are “allowed” to allocate
  • Expecting yourself to be “back to normal” too soon
  • Trying to handle it alone

Normalizing the Emotions Related to Grief and Loss

For as long as there have been living beings, grief and loss has existed. How incredible would it be to accept this reality by normalizing the related emotions? To follow are some more suggestions:

Acknowledgment

You’re grieving and that is both normal and healthy. But, keep in mind that there is no one “right” way to grieve. The journey is not linear. It’s messy by definition and will require diligence and patience. Thus, don’t set a time limit or create a blueprint. Feel what you need to feel — all of it — for as long as you need to feel it.

Balance

Don’t push down any emotions — good or bad. Part of feeling what you need to feel involves seeking balance. Despite your grief, there will still be moments of joy. Embrace them without guilt. You are under no obligation to grieve all day, every day.

Practice Self-Care

Such foundational work is essential. Your mind and body will need to be tended to. Some elements to keep in mind:

  • Make healthy eating choices (related to what you do and don’t consume)
  • Stay properly hydrated
  • Commit to a regular sleep routine
  • Get outside for some fresh air and sunshine
  • Engage in exercise and physical activity every day
  • Cultivate relaxation techniques and stress management tactics

Lean on Your Support System

You’ll need people to help with the basics. Daily functioning may feel impossible for a little while. You’ll also need trusted connections who will listen and counsel. Give voice to your grief to people who validate your emotions.

Create Your Own Rituals

There are traditional ceremonies for marking a loss of any kind. This, in no way, precludes you from conjuring up some rituals of your own. They can be as simple or elaborate as you choose. They can be recurring, too. You always have the agency when it comes to giving deeper meaning to what you are living through.

Practice Gratitude

At first, it can be a challenge. But, if you carefully look around you, you will see countless examples of special little moments happening. Notice them. Keep track of them in a journal. As touched on recognize that you have balance in your life. Amidst the sorrow, there are always reasons to say “thank you.”

In a culture averse to dealing with a loss, it’s not unusual to need some extra help. If you feel stuck in grief, let’s talk soon. We can begin with a free consultation and go from there.

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