- By Dana Sparks
7 Steps for Managing Grief and Loss
LE SUEUR, Minn. — Grief is summarized as sadness felt after suffering loss. Although that’s a fine cursory definition, it doesn’t really give grief true meaning. Grief is a deep and sometimes complex response to loss. Behavioral health provider and social worker at Mayo Clinic Health System Jessie Wolf says, “Even though it’s often associated with death, grief can be the result of any sort of loss or major life change. Losing your job, getting divorced, even moving — these all can elicit feelings of grief.”
Initial grief frequently comes as acute emotional pain. While it may seem insurmountable when it first grasps hold of your life, there are ways to cope with grief. Supplying yourself with knowledge and grieving tactics is the best way to combat your loss. Wolf provides some tips to help you during the grieving process.
Give yourself permission to feel.
Grieving is a normal part of dealing with loss. But you can’t grieve if you don’t allow yourself the opportunity. Be sure to recognize the need to grieve and let it run its natural course. Your emotional health will be better served if you face your grief.
Write a letter to the deceased loved one.
If you’ve recently lost a loved one, try expressing your feelings through a letter. Writing a message about your emotions can be cathartic and aid with coping.
Journal about positive memories.
This is similar to writing a letter and can apply to any sort of loss. Even if you’ve lost your house, a journal about positive memories and experiences will help you focus on the good times. In terms of a loved one’s death or divorce, journal about why you loved them and the joy you shared together.
Talk to someone.
Even though talking to someone about your feelings seems simple, it can be extremely challenging. People may feel safer shutting everyone else out during their time of grief. Resist that urge and find a confidant to share with.
Understand grief affects everybody.
Grief is not age-specific or limited to certain populations. Children, teens and adults all grieve. Recognize this fact and expect signs of grief from all involved parties, no matter the age. And remember, everyone has their own unique form of grieving. There is no textbook way to grieve.
Lend a supportive ear to others.
Maybe someone else’s grief doesn’t affect you in the same way or much at all. It’s still important to support your loved ones during their grieving process. Be there to listen and comfort them.
With kids, listening and being supportive is critical. Be sure to let them work through the process, and answer their questions directly as they arise. Neglecting to answer questions or answering questions in a roundabout way may lead a child to make up stories and even blame themselves for the death or loss.
Prepare for recurring grief.
Holidays, birthdays and other events can spark grief — even years after a loss. Recognize these triggers and prepare to handle the grief as needed.
“Loss and subsequent grieving are challenging. But with proper coping techniques and an understanding of the grieving process, you will be better prepared to handle grief and loss,” adds Wolf.