Grief and loss comes in all kinds of different shapes and sizes. Each person experiences it differently. And yet, for all of us, it hurts. We often feel like we just cannot get away from the pain. If this is how you feel, remember that you are not alone! Here are five ways to help you handle loss and grief.
1. Take time to grieve.
Our culture finds it hard to deal with grief. Everyone wants you to be okay as soon as possible, and this is a good thing at its root. You want to be okay as soon as possible, right? But sometimes we forget that grief is a process. It is all right to take time to be sad. This is part of the healing process, and true freedom cannot happen without it. So let your loss settle. Spend time being quiet. Admit that it hurts. I do not mean that your life should turn into a constant pity-party. But it is fine - and, in fact, necessary - to acknowledge that you are in pain and that it won't just go away in a heartbeat. Reflect, journal, spend time in nature and do other activities that will help you deal with the grief instead of shoving it under the surface.
2. Accept Help.
Responsibilities can become overwhelming when you are going through loss. Thus, as little as you want to accept help, you need to give yourself a break. Graciously accept meals and offers to clean your home or babysit your children. There is no obligation to reciprocate with anything more than a heartfelt "thank you" in a time like this. You should even go one step further and ask for help if you feel like you have too much to do. There is no shame in this, and your friends will be more than glad to help you. Also, remember that it is 100% okay to respectfully decline an offer that would not be helpful to you. If your friends want to take you out for a day when you actually need quiet time to grieve, do not hesitate to be honest about it.
3. Be open and receive support.
Practical help is not the only kind of help you need. You should also have friends around you who will support you emotionally. Sometimes that means coming and sitting beside you quietly for a while. Sometimes that means sharing a prayer or piece of poetry. Sometimes that means listening while you talk. Some of your friends will know you well enough to know what you need. But not all of them will, so you can guide them by being open. This is absolutely crucial. Let your friends know how you are feeling. Tell them how they can best support you in this difficult time. Lay your heart bare, even if it hurts. You do not have to share your deepest feelings with everyone. But you should have a few close friends who can bear your burdens with you.
4. Remember that the people around you are human.
Everyone who knows your plight will want to comfort you. And some will do that better than others. Many people may genuinely want to help, but do not understand your pain. Or their personality is extremely different from yours, and they deal with grief in a different way than you do. This can be extremely difficult to navigate when you are going through loss. But try to have grace for the people around you whenever you can. They are humans and make mistakes; they may end up being insensitive without even knowing it when they are trying to offer comfort. Simply express thanks for their efforts; or say politely, "I think I need some time to be quiet now."
5. Seek counseling.
No one should face grief on his or her own. Loss and pain leave you vulnerable. One of the ways to find beauty in the pain is to seek out the support of other people, especially people who understand what it is grieve and who know what helps it heal. If you are overwhelmed with grief and loss, you probably feel like you are alone. But you must remember that you are not alone. People who feel just like you feel you now have found out what helps you heal. Counseling is an extremely useful tool to help you embrace the process of healing. If you need a counselor who will take your grief seriously, feel free to contact me.