How to Cope with Grief

Submitted by Judy Thye, MA, LMHC, CT

It is natural for people to experience sorrow and a sense of loss when a loved one passes away. Other emotions, thoughts and behaviors may also be part of one’s grieving process. However, it is important to know that grief is an individual process and that you do not need to go through this difficult journey alone.

Trained bereavement counselors explain that grief may diminish one’s quality of life for a time and can even affect daily functioning.

Participation in a grief support group or seeing a grief counselor one-on-one can help those experiencing a loss recognize and address painful thoughts and emotions. Grief counselors suggest the following steps for coping with overwhelming grief:

Talk about your loved one. Find ways to share your memories and express your sadness with family, friends or a grief counselor. Joining a grief support group may also help you realize you are not alone in experiencing grief.

Take care of yourself. Eat well, drink plenty of water and exercise. Grief is exhausting and can drain your physical and mental energy. By finding a healthy regimen you enjoy, you will clear your mind and refresh your body.

Treat yourself. Grief counselors recommend doing something enjoyable or comforting to ease your feelings of sorrow. Going to a movie, listening to your favorite music or taking a trip doesn’t mean you have stopped loving your loved one. You must treat yourself with patience and kindness.

Prepare for difficult days. Birthdays, holidays and anniversaries can be especially difficult for people who are grieving. Even if it has been a long time since your loved one passed away, these dates may stir up painful feelings. Grief counselors recommend planning activities to honor your loved ones during these specific times. If you will be with friends and family members, let them know in advance that you anticipate feeling a little “blue.” Encourage them to share their good memories about your loved one and not avoid bringing them up.

Grief counselors stress that the grief can last for an extended period. However, you can adjust to living without your loved one and build a life that is satisfying. Some day you will draw comfort from memories of your loved one.