Grief Recovery: 10 Ways to Cope with Your Loss
These ten strategies will help you to cope with your grief in healthy ways that allow you to continue moving forward in your life.
Grief looks a bit different for all of us – and the recovery process does, too. While you may never be quite the same again, and while you will always miss the loved one you have lost, the recovery process is about coping with your grief in healthy ways that allow you to continue moving forward in your life. Below, we will discuss ten ways to cope with grief rather than ignoring or suppressing it.
1. Acknowledge Your Loss
It is challenging to let yourself feel all the emotions you’re being bombarded with within the early stages of grief. However, when you’re feeling so overwhelmed by what has happened, it’s important to permit yourself to feel it all – and to give yourself a safe space to express your feelings, too. Ignoring or suppressing your feelings will only lead to more pain in the end.
2. Allow Your Grief to Be Personal
Whether we realize it consciously or not, we all have predisposed ideas of what grief should feel, look like, or even sound like. Much of this is cultural, but it can also be based on ideas you were raised with or even things you’ve seen on television. It’s important to let go of any such expectations and acknowledge that grief is an intensely personal experience. Your emotional, physical, social, and behavioral reactions will look different than everyone else’s – and that is okay.
3. Set a Goal for Yourself
Once you have allowed yourself to acknowledge your loss and your unique grief experience, it is important to set at least one intentional goal for yourself. It might be something like making sure you don’t isolate yourself from well-meaning friends or commit to eating healthy meals. Whatever it is, make sure it supports your wellbeing rather than causing you undue stress.
4. Accept Support from Others
It’s normal to want to be alone at times, and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for the tie to yourself if that’s what you need. However, accepting practical help and emotional support from your friends and family is a healthy way to cope with your grief. You may not be ready to cry on someone’s shoulder or bare your soul, but something as small as accepting a homemade meal can help you feel less isolated and more supported. Keep in mind, too, that many people have no idea what sort of help or support to offer. Friends, family, and coworkers alike may ask you to let them know if you need anything, and you shouldn’t be afraid to make suggestions to ensure your needs are met.
5. Set Realistic Expectations
There is no time limit on your grief, and there is no one right way to deal with loss. Be gentle with yourself during your grief journey, and try not to have unrealistic expectations about when you’ll feel better or “normal” again. Grieving often takes longer than we anticipate, and you may often feel like you’re taking two steps forward and three steps back. It isn’t easy to get back into your normal routine or to take on anything new. Be patient and know that there will come a day when the pain is less sharp, and your sorrow will begin to transform.
6. Practice Self-Care
Grief takes a physical toll, as well as an emotional one, so be sure to care for your body and your mind as you grieve. Make sure you’re drinking enough water and eating three meals a day, and try to keep a consistent sleep schedule as much as possible. When you feel overwhelmed or emotionally drained, allow yourself to rest. If you’re caring for others who are also grieving, try not to let their needs minimize your own. Practicing self-care is essential during the grief recovery process.
7. Stay Active and Engaged
You can assist your own grief recovery by finding tangible ways to express and process your grief. Allow yourself to be open to creating new habits and rituals to acknowledge your feelings and remember your loved one, such as journaling or creating scrapbooks filled with happy memories. Actively processing your loss is a healthy coping mechanism for many bereaved people.
8. Keep Doing the Things You Love
Part of the grief recovery process is about finding joy and meaning in your life again, but many people avoid the hobbies or activities that remind them of their loved ones. So while it can be painful to take that first solo bike ride or go to church alone, you’ll likely find that doing the things you love will bring you a sense of comfort and peace.
9. Let Yourself Remember
Revisiting memories of your lost loved one can be harrowing, and many people avoid it for that reason. Instead, let yourself remember so that you can celebrate the life you had together and feel grateful for the time you shared. This is a difficult step in the grief recovery process, but you will find that a day will come when a memory brings a smile to your face instead of a tear.
10. Seek Grief Counseling
The grief journey is full of ups and downs, obstacles, and intense emotions. The pain we experience when we lose a loved one can sometimes be overwhelming, and there is no shame in seeking professional assistance. You might consider talking with a grief counselor one-on-one, or you can join a virtual or in-person grief support group. Grief counseling can give you the tools to keep moving forward and cope with your loss in healthy and productive ways, and counselors won’t judge you for anything you are thinking or feeling. In addition, it can be very cathartic to talk out loud about your feelings or struggles, and grief counseling offers a safe space to do so.
Final Thoughts on Grief Recovery and Coping with Loss
Grief will break you in many ways, but it’s possible to recover and live a meaningful and even joyful life after loss. Of course, the grief recovery process looks different for everyone. Still, the coping mechanisms above are healthy ways to acknowledge, accept, and work through your grief so that you can move forward and continue to build your life after loss.