Though the grieving process differs for everyone, it is our natural response to loss and can introduce individuals to a plethora of emotions including shock, anger, disbelief, sadness, guilt, etc. These emotions can interrupt daily functioning including our sleep patterns, appetite, and thoughts among other things. If nothing else, 2020 has taught us that grief is not only associated with the loss of a loved one, it can also be associated with the end of a relationship, the loss of a job, decline of health, changes in a friendship, a move, a pandemic, and more. Writing this blog post is one of my ways of coping with and processing grief, and I hope that you all will understand.
Every Christmas holiday season is difficult for me. I lost two of my grandparents within three weeks of Christmas. One of which was OBSESSED with Christmas. She was my best friend; my grandma, Mary. Though it was years ago, every Christmas hits HARD. The music, the lights, the decorations...everything reminds me of her. This year was especially hard as I approached graduation because all I could think about was "am I making her proud?". Up until this year, I was ashamed of still sinking deep into depression after years of experiencing life without her. I had told myself that it was time for me to come to terms with this loss and let it go. Instead of giving myself grace and finding new meaning in the transition, I told myself that if I ignore the pain, I'd be okay, and that it was better for my family if I remained strong. The truth is, there is no wrong or right way to grieve, the process cannot be hurried or forced, and there is not timetable for grief. Instead of creating rules to "overcome" grief, I learned that it is a constant coping process.
Whether your story is similar to mine or your grief is triggered by something else, here are some helpful tips to cope with your loss:
-Don't try to suppress those emotions
-Give yourself grace and acknowledge the pain that you are feeling
-Sit with those feelings, but don't stay there as grief can often lead to depression
-Accept that grief can cause many unexpected emotions and responses to those emotions
-Utilize your support systems
-Be expressive; journal, dance, sing, etc.
-Try your best to maintain your schedule, normal hobbies, and interests. There's comfort in finding joy or connecting with the things that make you happy
-Plan ahead for grief triggers (anniversaries, holidays, milestones, etc.)
-Get active to maintain your physical health
-Realize that your process is specific to YOU!