Moving beyond grief and loss
The process of recovering from loss is difficult. We grieve due to many kinds of losses, including the loss of loved ones due to deaths; losses of relationships, including divorce; job loss; and loss of health, to name a few.
If you are recovering from a loss, the following points may help:
- You are responsible for your own, unique grieving process. There are resources to help you through grief, but nobody can tell you how to grieve or do your grief work for you.
- Your grief will end eventually. You will not feel like this forever.
- Take care of your health. Grief is extremely stressful and exhausting. Try to live a healthy lifestyle (eating, exercise, sleep/rest, spirituality, etc.), even if you do not feel like doing so.
- Be careful with food, alcohol, and other drugs. Eating “comfort foods” (or not eating enough), using alcohol or other drugs to numb the grief may be tempting, but doing so can create additional problems. If you need medications, talk to your physician.
- Talk about your loss. Talk about the person who is no longer in your life. This will help you move past the shock and denial and through the grief process.
- Take time to be alone. Following the loss of a loved one, there often is a flurry of activity (calls, visitors, etc.), which can be exhausting. Allow yourself time away from all of the activity, but do not isolate yourself, either.
- Maintain as normal a routine as you can. Try to get up, go to bed, and eat meals at your usual times. In the midst of many changes, we need some things to stay the same.
- Ask for help. You will need it. Be specific about what you need.
- Let people help you. Accepting help is one way of staying connected.
- Keep a journal of your feelings and experiences. This can be a healthy way to cope with your feelings, and it may help you recognize progress during the grief process.
- Try to avoid making significant life changes until your life feels more balanced.
- Don’t hurry your grief process. Grieving healthily takes time; there are no shortcuts. There is no specific time frame for recovering from grief.
- Expect to regress occasionally in your recovery process. This is normal. It may happen unexpectedly, but it probably will not last long.
- Acknowledge the anniversary of your loss. Take the day off or do something special. Have supportive people ready to be with you. It could be a difficult day, and, usually, being with people is better than being alone.
About the Author
Dr. Judy Ronan Woodburn is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with Advocate Medical Group – Behavioral Health in Normal, Ill. She has helped her clients through a variety of issues for more than 20 years.