Handling Loss: How Do I Grieve?
Throughout our lives unplanned events occur. Events that we are forced to face. The loss of a loved one, the loss of a relationship, the loss of a job, each event is different yet each leaves us with a hole in our lives. How are we supposed to handle the loss? How do we move forward? How can we get on with our lives? How do we pick up the pieces? At first it seems like we will never be able to move forward. But there are steps to take that can help us move forward and cope with the loss.
1. You don’t need to fill the void the loss created. A loss leaves a void. A chunk of your life, how you spent your time, is now missing. You don’t need to fill this void. There is no way to exactly replace the void that is created by your loss. In fact, attempting to do so might leave you even more disillusioned and saddened by your inability to replace what was lost.
2. It takes time to mend. Getting over a loss doesn’t happen overnight. You may get frustrated that the mending process doesn’t go more quickly, but it takes time to mend. Don’t feel overwhelmed. A loss can be instantaneous, but a recovery from that loss is a slow process. Think of a loss like being lowered quickly down an elevator in a tall building. When you get out you’re down on the ground floor. You need to get back up to where you started, but the elevator is no longer available, you need to use the stairs. It’s slow going and takes time and energy, but it’s the only way.
3. Take time to grieve. Don’t feel bad about taking time to grieve. Part of the process of moving forward is grieving the loss. There are days or hours within a day where the focus is on grieving. If at the end of the day, you realize you haven’t accomplished what you wanted to do, don’t get upset with yourself. The time you spent grieving is still time well spent. Without grieving you won’t be able to move forward.
4. Find some outlets. Depending on the nature of the loss, you may want to find new outlets or hobbies that take your mind off your loss. Doing something new refocuses your mind to think about something other than your loss. New outlets can give you a new perspective and break up the time spent mourning your loss.
5. Do some things for yourself. Pamper yourself a little. Take a small trip, pick up a treat at the store, or do something you’ve thought about, but haven’t found the time to do. You are important.
6. Find people to talk to. Talking can be very therapeutic. Friends are fine, but they may not understand your loss. Grief support groups can be more helpful; these groups allow you to talk with people who are going through the same loss process you are going through.
7. The timing of loss is never right. Don’t dwell on the what ifs. A loss is never timely, but don’t think for a moment that your actions or inaction could have prevented the loss. There are so many variables to any chain of events that you can’t and shouldn’t analyze alternative outcomes.
8. The past is the past. Keep the loss in perspective. It is something that has occurred, that you can’t change. Keep your focus on the present so that it can turn into the future you want to see. Look forward not backward.
9. Grief always remains. Know that over time grief over a loss might lessen. However, it is always there somewhere in the back of your mind. Moving on isn’t about believing that grief is gone for good. Grief is part of being human. It is part of the human process.
10. Where do you go from here? Over time you will become ready to put together a plan of action to move forward. This may include wrapping up loose ends created by the loss and moving on with your life. This step is all about timing. Move forward at a pace you feel comfortable at, but embrace a willingness to take the steps to move forward even if they are baby steps.
Loss and the grieving cycle that follows is a complex process that is universal to people and at the same time unique to each person. Follow a basic outline and then let your own inner compass guide you through the process. Remember the past is always with you, but the future is what you seek.