Grievers receive the message from others and society that grief should be private and resolved in a few months. If you ask someone supporting a bereaved person, what is one thing the bereaved needs? Many times they will say "Don't talk about their loss (to avoid upsetting them)". If you ask the bereaved what is the one thing you need as you grieve? Many times their response will be "I need to talk about my loss". This shows how misunderstood a griever can feel at a time of loss. We are taught to "stuff" our feelings and "be strong". When one has the opportunity to openly grieve and share their feelings in relationship with others, they then have the ability to transform feelings of loss into healing, growth and peace. This can result in finding new ways to connect and honor the relationship you shared with your loved one.
Talk with someone - Try someone you know, a professional counselor, religious figure or a support group. Find listeners who will accept your feelings without judgment.
Ask for help - People want to provide help and support. Give them a task (shopping, dog walking, cleaning errands). There are websites that help organize these tasks. www.takethemameal.com or www.carecalendar.org
Give permission - To feel your feelings - the full range of emotions. Doing this is like medicine for your broken heart.
Journal - Write a letter or jot down feelings or thoughts. May want to consider to review notes at a later time. It is hard to see or feel progress as you grieve. Keeping track can help monitor your progress.
Relaxation or Visualization - Do nothing, rest, deep breathing exercises, listen to music, visualize a relaxing place, prayer etc.
Set goals - Make smaller, more realistic goals. Prioritize and delegate goals as needed.
Recognize your progress - Share your progress with others or through journaling.
Be in nature - Spend time watching beauty and life. Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings while you are in nature. Possibly journal and track thoughts and feelings to gain insights and connect to feelings.
Pay attention and acknowledge messages - You may see or hear things repetitively. Explore what meaning this may have for you.
Movement - Gardening, painting, exercising, yoga, walking etc.
Be understanding and patient - You may notice a significant change in concentration and memory. Write things down, give yourself more time to accomplish tasks, add more time when driving to your destination, or ask others to remind you of important tasks and appointments.
Create Reminders - Find poetry, mantras, bible verses, or quotes that speak courage, hope and strength to you. Keep them near in a time of need.
Acknowledge the "Firsts" and "Triggers" - By acknowledging, you are honoring and remembering the moments, life and relationship that created them.
Mindful remembering - Set aside time to remember and talk about your loved one. For some, the emotions can initially be so overwhelming it is easier to set a limited amount of time (may consider setting an alarm). At the end of your time, change the scenery or do something to take care of you.
Develop a routine - Maintain part of your normal routine to create familiarity and comfort. However, you may find it helpful to change parts of your routine to prevent constantly being triggered. It is helpful to grieve in doses.
Preserve your time and energy - Say no when you do not feel like socializing. Many grievers report they are afraid to say no because they do not want others to stop asking. You may include this in your response, "No, thank you. Please keep asking. I might change my mind in the future" Or, "No thanks, but would it be okay if I call when I want to join you?" Develop an "escape" plan for social events. Oftentimes, you are not sure how you will feel once you are at the event. Have an ambassador - someone that will update everyone about your needs and how you are feeling.
Grief can be overwhelming and confusing - You are not only grieving your loved one as a person but all the secondary losses (loss of routine, financial security, support system, past or future dreams, self confidence etc) attached to him or her. You may find yourself torn at times - You are doing opposing tasks as you grieve. You are saying "good-bye" to your loved one as well as saying - "you will always be with me".
Trust your instincts - You have the answers, resources and strength within you. Your "voice" will get louder and clearer the more you listen to it. Allowing for quiet time can help you tune into your intuition.
These are only suggestions. Some of these examples might help more or less during different parts of the grief process. The most important thing to know is that not one person grieves the same! There is no textbook that has the answers for how to grieve. If you have questions or would like to further share how you are doing, please feel free to call me. Counseling can sometimes be that safe place that allows individuals to process and eventually release their feelings of grief, transforming them to feelings of hope and healing.
Deep Breathing Exercise
Take a breath in through your nose. Count to 5 in order to slow your breath.
Imagine your breath filling your lungs all the way down to your abdomen,
ensuring your belly is expanding (not your chest) to create a good stretch in
the lungs. Pause your breath for a count of 1 and slowly exhale. As you
exhale, try counting to 5 to release all the breath from deep within your