Losing someone or something that holds immense value in our lives can be an overwhelming and painful experience. Whether you’re coping with the loss of a parent, a loved one, or a pet, your experience of grief is valid. How do people cope with loss? The grieving process is unique to everyone, and there is no right or wrong way to navigate loss. However, it’s helpful to have a toolkit of healthy coping mechanisms to reach for throughout this process. Not only can these tools alleviate painful symptoms, but they can also prevent individuals from reaching for unhealthy alternatives. Learn more about the 10 empowering tools you can incorporate into your journey towards healing when coping with grief and loss.
How to Deal With Loss
1. Self-Reflection and Journaling
Putting pen to paper can be more powerful than you think. Journaling helps you process your feelings and gain a deeper understanding of your grief. It’s an outlet that allows you to explore your pain in a safe space and identify potential patterns and triggers that may hinder your healing process. Getting painful thoughts and feelings out of the body and onto a physical space can often help you see more clearly. Take the time to be with yourself and to view your thoughts and feelings from a non-judgmental space. If you’re unsure where to start, begin with a writing prompt and see where it takes you.
2. Mindfulness and Meditation
Practicing mindfulness and meditation can bring a sense of calm and serenity amidst the chaos of loss. Through mindfulness, you can observe your thoughts and emotions without attachment. Additionally, embracing the present moment allows you to acknowledge your grief and accept it for what it is. Meditation is one way to practice mindfulness — helping you cultivate a sense of inner peace and focus, enabling you to navigate through difficult emotions effectively. If you find it uncomfortable to simply sit with your thoughts, try mindfulness through movement. Yoga and tai chi are mindfulness practices that allow you to physically move with your breath. The goal is to find a method that works for you and stick to it.
3. Cultivate a Supportive Social Circle
Building a supportive social circle can be immensely beneficial when coping with loss. Surround yourself with loved ones who offer compassion, understanding, and a safe space for you to express your emotions. It can also help to engage with friends, family, or support groups who have experienced similar losses. Sharing your feelings with others who empathize can also alleviate feelings of loneliness.
4. Engage in Physical Activity
Physical activity has a direct impact on your mental well-being. Engaging in regular exercise releases endorphins, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, which are feel-good neurotransmitters that improve your mood and relieve stress. Consider incorporating exercise into your routine regularly – whether it’s a walk in nature, yoga, weight lifting, pilates, or swimming. The key is to find a form of movement that you enjoy, making it more likely that you’ll stick to it. Not only will exercise distract your mind from ruminating, but it will also encourage the release of built-up emotions that may be hindering your healing.
5. Creative Expression
Choose a creative outlet that resonates with you and allows you to express your emotions. Painting, writing, singing, dancing, or any form of creative expression can serve as a cathartic release. Through creativity, you can communicate your grief in a unique and vibrant way, unleashing emotions that might otherwise remain buried. While the output isn’t the goal, it may surprise you, as it can serve as a beautiful tribute to your grief, or to the something or someone you have lost.
6. Establish Boundaries
It’s normal to not feel like yourself while grieving. You may want to pull back from attending social events and slow down your usual routines. That’s why it’s important to establish healthy boundaries. Recognize and respect your emotional trigger points, allowing yourself the space to heal at your own pace. It will also help to set clear boundaries with people around you to communicate your needs and limitations. If you feel the need to step away from socializing, put that energy into taking care of yourself, such as prioritizing self-care and avoiding overextending yourself when you’re feeling emotionally fragile.
7. Seek Professional Help
Dealing with loss can bring about heavy feelings that are hard to carry alone. That’s why counselling can be a game-changer throughout the grief journey. A professional counsellor can provide invaluable support, offering specialized techniques to address your individual needs. They can guide you in exploring your grief, developing coping strategies, and empowering you to heal and grow at your own pace. Seeking professional help is a sign of courage and demonstrates a commitment to your mental well-being. It also ensures you have a qualified support system in your journey towards healing.
8. Honour the Memory
Honouring the memory of the person, pet, or thing you’ve lost can also help in the healing process. Create a space for remembrance – a photo album, a memorial service, or a simple tribute where you can celebrate their life and keep their memory alive. Taking positive actions to remember your loved one can bring solace and comfort, allowing you to cherish their presence even though they are no longer physically with you.
9. Practice Self-Compassion
Grief and loss are often accompanied by a mix of difficult emotions, including guilt and self-blame. To combat negative feelings during this challenging time, focus on self-compassion and be gentle with yourself. Self-compassion involves treating yourself with the same kindness, empathy, and understanding you would offer a close friend. Remind yourself that your emotions are valid and that healing takes time. Embrace the journey and be patient with yourself as you navigate each stage of grief.
10. Set Realistic Expectations
Lastly, set realistic expectations regarding your feelings and the healing process. Healing from loss is not a linear path, and it takes different amounts of time for everyone. Recognize that grief may resurface unexpectedly, even after you’ve made progress. Accepting the ups and downs is essential for maintaining self-compassion and patience. Take each day as it comes, celebrate small victories, and acknowledge that healing is a non-linear journey.
Feel Supported While Coping With Loss
Coping with loss is a deeply personal experience, and empowering yourself with these tools can support your mental well-being during difficult times. Embrace the idea that you have the strength and resilience within you to navigate through grief and transform pain into growth. If you’re wondering how to recover from a huge loss, the overarching answer is patience. It’s essential to remember that there is no timeline for healing, and there is no shame in reaching out for support or help when needed. By leaning on these tools, you can cultivate resilience and emerge stronger. You don’t have to go through this process alone. If you’re looking for support during this difficult time, a Wellin5 counsellor is available. Get personalized one-on-one care. Learn more.