Loss and grief are our shared experiences in life. As Joan Didion wrote in her book The Year of Magical Thinking (2005), “You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.” Suddenly, you’ve lost a loved one as well as the life you’ve been leading. You’re in an ocean and the waves of grief keep coming – sometimes suffocating, other times sweeping you up in a crescendo of emotion and loss and letting you down into a valley of depression.
You can control your grief about as much as you can control the tide, and even though it seems impossible (especially in the beginning), you can learn to work with your grief, swimming with the waves as they come, allowing them to sweep you up and down, but not letting them pull you under.
Your grief must be heard
One of the best ways to work with your grieving process is to talk about what you’re feeling, although this may also be the hardest. Talking about what you feel can be very difficult, or maybe finding someone willing to listen may be a problem.
Bottling up your emotions is easy in the beginning, but takes a high toll as time goes on. Whether you speak to a family member, friend, or in a grief support group, what matters is that you begin and keep talking, not only about your loved one, but about how you are feeling and coping because grief must be heard and validated.
What you are feeling–whatever you are feeling–about your loss is normal and is unique to every individual.
Don’t work through grief, work with it
Grief is a natural response, but the way we are expected to respond to it is usually misguided: grieve quickly, grieve correctly, and move on with your life. Your grief is unique to you. You can’t force pain into quickstep or a set process, but you can allow your grief to exist without caging or stifling it.
How well you can grieve depends on your reality and your experience. The best way to coexist with what you’re feeling is to stop pushing against bereavement and learn to find ways to work with it.
Grief may never end, but as you make room for it in your life you also make room for happy memories and a positive connection to the person you’ve lost. And when you do find healthy ways to get relief and cope with grief you can hardly get it wrong.
You can’t get it wrong
There are very few ways to grieve the wrong way. Relatives and friends sometimes offer platitudes like “Time heals all,” and expect you to move on from your grief and from the person you’ve lost after a certain amount of time. Other people’s wishes and expectations aren’t your problem. Take the time and space you need. Fortunately, there are many ways to grieve and just as many that can be helpful on your journey with coping with grief.
Ways to cope with grief
Even finding a single way to feel better in your grieving process will provide relief. This can also mean involving your loved one in your life in small, yet special ways: creating a memorial website, wearing a special piece of jewelry, or writing them a letter. Work with your grieving process by creating your own steps toward feeling better. You can also use something tangible, such as one of our angel necklaces, to stay connected to your special loved one.
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