I remember in college learning the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance). And I guess its important to know that grief is a process that takes time and patience. But I’m always surprised at how little in comparison is written about dealing with grief.
Here are a few ideas:
1. Accept It: Grief will find you no matter where you hide. Pain doesn’t take holidays. Attempts to ignore it will only delay the process.
2. Get Support: The experience of grief is an overwhelming and traumatic experience. The worst thing you can do in those situations is to isolate yourself and let your negative emotions (anger, frustration, hopelessness) get a hold of you. Reach out to trusted family and friends, clergy or professional counselors. Its not an admission of weakness to need help. Rather it is a statement of strength.
3. Express It: Grief cannot be internalized and kept in your head. It is too overwhelming. It will get out no matter what. Try and express your emotions in a positive way that is life-affirming. It can be through art or poetry. It can be through tears and heartfelt conversations with others who you trust.
4. Slow Down: Grief takes time and energy. It is normal to feel weak, tired and spent. Give yourself more time to do the normal every-day activities that seem so forced and difficult right now. You may even find that approaching your mundane daily activities with more mindfulness, allows you to appreciate life just a bit more.
5. Re-Connect: The experience of grief teaches us that life is temporary and that we should enjoy and appreciate what we have. So learn from that. Let your family and friends know how much you care about them. Get reacquainted with nature (long walks, days at the beach, hikes, etc.). The circle of life of which we are all apart is nowhere more evident than in nature with its varied and near-infinite forms of life.
6. Remember: Remember the good times, even in your grief. Even the darkest days will be followed by a sunrise. This too shall pass and you will go on stronger and wiser.