Grief is something that we all go through at one point or another in our lives, unfortunately. With that said, there is no set way to experience and recover from grief. You can never predict the loss of a loved one, not that you’d really want to of course! And even if you’ve lost a friend, relative or pet before, grief can take different forms each time it surfaces.
In the USA alone, 57% of people experienced major loss in the last three years. From this total, 32% experienced the loss of a close friend or relative, 20% suffered the loss of a pet, 3% lost a spouse or partner, and 2% experienced the loss of a child. Some of these deaths were anticipated – 45% of them, 45% of these deaths were not anticipated, and 8% were suspected, due to known violent circumstances.
Steering yourself through the grieving process can be tough. Older adults experience grief on a much bigger scale than a child or young adult perceives death and grief. Yet, no matter the age of the person affected, no grief should ever be ignored. It can feel more difficult to overcome grief as an adult but on the other hand, the way a child processes grief will have a big impact on their mental health later on in life. Every case of grief is different and there is no specific stage that you should be at. Grief doesn’t have an expiry date and so sometimes it’s helpful to find ways to guide yourself through the grieving process in order to ease the weight on your shoulders. These are some positive and effective ways to make the grieving process easier for you.
Journalling has become increasingly popular in recent years. People use journals to keep themselves motivated, to track progress, to ease anxiety and to offload their thoughts. It’s essentially the same as keeping a diary however, it’s been revamped and given a new name in order to appeal to a wider demographic. Journalling appeals to so many people from business owners to school pupils and everyone in between. It has been reported that journalling has had a positive impact on mental health too. This is because you can use journalling to scribble, make notes, organise your thoughts and confide in if you choose.
When going through the grieving process, everybody suffers in different ways. Some people will be more vocal with their suffering and this might be expressed more often through tears and physical sadness, whereas others might bottle up their grief and appear quite collected from the outside. Neither way is wrong and it doesn’t mean that one person is more caring or genuine because of the way they express their grief.
If you’re the kind of person who bottles up their emotions and is unsure how to let out their sadness then writing down how you feel in a journal could help you through this time. At the other end of the scale, if you find that you’re constantly breaking down in tears and unable to be productive in your daily life then you could use journalling as a way to track your progress. Create daily lists of what you’ve managed to achieve each day, even if it’s just taking a shower or cleaning the house. Knowing that you’ve achieved something – no matter how small or insignificant, will make you feel empowered and put you back in control of your own life!
Getting creative is a fantastic way to while away hours and take a break from things! If you already have a hobby that you’re passionate about then make good use of it! Discovering a new hobby when you’re going through the grieving process is perfect for taking your mind off things. Starting a new sport or going to the gym is good for your body and your mind. Exercise increases endorphins, which put you in a good mood – so it’s definitely worth trying!
Scrapbooking is a great pastime to explore and it can be an excellent way of making progress during the grieving process. Depending on how you feel, you could create a scrapbook dedicated to the life of the person you’ve lost. Getting over losing somebody isn’t about pushing them to the back of your mind and trying not to mention or think of them. It’s about acceptance and celebrating their life! Composing a scrapbook, full of photos and memorabilia is a lovely way to honour their memory.
On the other hand, if you’re trying to take your mind off what has happened, why not use scrapbooking as a way to look to the future?! Make a plan of action. Create a goal board. Write a list of what you have to look forward to this week/month/year. Get creative and try to lose yourself in this activity for a couple of hours.
No matter whether you would prefer to be surrounding by people or left alone for the time being, you should never underestimate how important it is to spend time with your loved ones when you’re experiencing tough times. Of course, make sure that you choose to spend time with people who really do lift your spirits, rather than those who might make you feel worse. Now is the time to recognise any potentially toxic relationships in your life and know that these individuals are not people you need around you! It’s not easy to get in the mood to socialise when you’ve lost someone close to you. However, try to make the effort to spend a nice time with people who really care about you! You don’t have to go out to a party or do anything big. A games night and pizza or a quick cup of coffee in home is all you need.
Sometimes it can be helpful to speak to a professional, such as an experienced counsellor. The benefit of talking to somebody outside of your circle of friends and family is that you can be more honest and open. Counselling sessions are strictly confidential, which means that whatever you say will not go any further. Attending counselling sessions will enable you to speak freely about what is on your mind, how you’re handling your grief and what you’d like to achieve going forward.
Just because the people around you know what you’ve gone through, it doesn’t mean that you can necessarily talk to them and get the guidance you need. If your loved ones are also grieving, they may be unable to help you in your recovery journey, which is perfectly understandable. It’s important to talk but some people tend to hold back from discussing their grief openly among friends and family because they don’t want to worry them or make them feel sad.
Of course, if there is an issue that is really troubling you then you should speak to those closest to you. However, counselling is so underrated and can really benefit your mental health! As mentioned earlier, everybody handles grief in different ways and therefore it’s up to you to explore your own coping methods and seek professional guidance if required.
Cooking is a great way of bringing family and friends together. When enduring such tragic times, try to maintain a routine by sitting down as a family at meal times. This is even more important if you have young children in your household. Not only is cooking a good way to pass time and keep busy, more importantly, we all have to eat! It’s normal to experience a loss in appetite when a loved one has passed away and you’re trying to make sense of it all. Yet, skipping meals and not eating a healthy, balanced diet will not make you feel any better.
Although it’s easy to conveniently whip up something to eat in next to no time, you can also turn cooking into a leisurely event by involving all the family. Cooking gets you moving around and it engages all of your senses too – smell, taste, touch, hearing, so it’s great for your mind too! If you want to pass time and entertain your kids while being productive, cooking is the perfect solution. Exercise your culinary skills by making delicious homemade dishes and baking tasty desserts!
Grief has no start or end date. There are also different stages of grief. Grief is more complex than crying and feeling sad, like during those early days after experiencing loss. But remember that even during these sad times, it’s not a crime to laugh, have fun or look for ways to become more positive!