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Coping with grief

There is no easy way to deal with grief. Grief is a perfectly natural response when we lose someone special. Many people do not understand grief, and try to deny it, postpone it, or dodge it, instead of dealing with it.

When someone close to you has passed on, you need to make adjustments in your life, which could cause uncertainty, fear, frustration, sadness and change. You will change. Your daily routine will change. Even your moods will change and could swing wildly. This process is what we call "grief". At a basic level, it's all about how you adapt to these changes in your life, your thoughts, hopes, beliefs and ultimately, your future.

There is no fixed way of dealing with grief, since each of us is different. Each of us is a unique individual, who had a unique relationship with the deceased. And so each of us experience the loss in a unique way, and need to find the way of coping that is best for us.

Grief is painful. Accept that. We need to express our grief, and that expression varies according to you the individual and also, the social culture in which you live.

Although you might feel that your circumstances are the most tragic ever, rest assured that throughout history, millions of people have gone through similar sorry to what you are now experiencing, and they found a way to cope. So can you. That does not mean that your grief will simply vanish, or that you should forget your loved one. You will probably still experience sorry years from now, but it will be different, because you will have made your peace with the fact of their passing.

Don't try and set a specific length of time for how long you will grieve. Instead, trust in the power of your subconscious to process what has happened to you and to come to terms with this new reality in your life. Also, do not let others try to speed up the grieving process by telling you to "get over it". They are not you, nor did they have your relationship with the deceased.

When you are in grief, it is up to you whether your grief is going to defeat you and ruin the rest of your life, or whether you will survive it and emerge stronger and wiser for the experience. If your loss is recent, you make think that you will never recover. In truth, you always have a choice, and how you come through this experience is very much a matter of which attitude you adopt.

It's okay to cry, even if you are a male. Crying is the body's natural coping mechanism for dealing with pain, whether physical or emotional. So cry. Cry some more. You'll feel better for it. And remember, it's a completely natural process.

Don't try to bottle up your feelings inside you. Find a friend to talk to about what has happened to you. If you really feel unable to talk to anyone, then get some paper and a pen, and write your feelings down. Writing things down is a great way to explore how you really feel, and helps get things out of your system, especially if there are maybe some hidden feelings of guilt.

Depending on your religion, it may help to talk to your deity. Just don't be too hard on him :-)

If at all possible, be sure to get some fresh air and exercise. The worst thing you can do is stay cooped up alone inside all the time. Go out. You don't need to take entertainment, but you need to see that life goes on, and you need to go on too.

The last lesson may seem particularly harsh, but when you understand it on a deep level, it is a powerful way of dealing with loss. It is this: death is a part of life. We all must die. It is this knowledge that separates Mankind from animals. The unpleasant part is that those that remain behind usually feel that although death must come, why did it have to come NOW? Why so soon? There are no answers to these questions, and asking them will only make you frustrated and depressed. You cannot change what has happened, you need to find a way of dealing with the pain that the death has brought.

You are unique, and you will find your own unique way of dealing with your loss. Have faith in your ability to cope and survive, and you will.

© 2000 Zero to Infinity