7 ways to cope with grief and loss

7 ways to cope with grief and loss


Sat 05 December

This week marks National Grief Awareness Week, a campaign aimed to raise awareness of all aspects of grief and loss. 

Grief can be experienced in several ways, the most obvious being losing a person we love, but it can be the loss of our own identity, our health or anything we feel a connection to.

 

Grief touches every part of our lives and can cause us immeasurable pain. If you’re struggling at the moment, here are seven things you can do to cope with grief and loss.

 

1. Experience the rituals

Not only do funerals lay your loved ones to rest with the respect they deserve, but they can also help you start processing your loss. Being around other people who knew your loved one can provide comfort; sharing stories of the ways they brought joy to the world can be a great way to identify some happy memories in the wave of sadness.

 

Rituals like this – as well as birthdays and anniversaries – can help you accept your feelings and allow the sadness you might have been pushing away come to the surface. It is important that you allow yourself to mourn and go through the motions of grief. Everyone deals with grief and loss differently and recognising how you feel can help you to understand your own process and eventually start to heal.

 

2. Talk through how you're feeling

Talking through your thoughts and feelings with friends and family can help you to move the emotion out of your body. This has many benefits including reducing stress and moving the grieving process along.

 

You might also be struggling with thoughts you don’t feel comfortable sharing with your loved ones, if this is the case consider talking to a therapist. This conversation can feel different to talking to a friend or family member as therapists are trained to listen and respond to you with empathy and compassion. Therapy can help you work through particularly painful experiences and build resilience that helps with the adjustment process of coping without the person you’ve lost.

 

If you’ve lost a loved one as a result of a brain tumour diagnosis and you live in Yorkshire, you might be able to access free counselling through Yorkshire’s Brain Tumour Charity.

 

And if you really can’t face talking right now, writing has a similar effect. Keeping a daily journal where you write down how you’re feeling is beneficial too.
 

 

3. Get enough sleep


When we’re experiencing huge amounts of emotion, sleep can be easily disrupted. However, you will be emotionally exhausted and getting plenty of rest is important to the grieving process.

 

We covered sleep tips in our article about how to get a better quality night’s sleep but here are some of the highlights:

  • Keep a regular sleep schedule including what time you wake up
  • Try and do some exercise during the day as this will help you drop off easier
  • Avoid caffine and alcohol after lunchtime
  • A bath with epsom salts or essential oils can help you unwind better
  • Limit the use of screen time, instead choosing something creative or reading a book in the few hours before bed.


4. Take care of yourself

Just like sleep, self-care is important when you’re grieving. Don’t put too much pressure on to stick to a fitness regime or a diet, for example, simply try to do one thing a day that makes you feel good.

 

This could be anything from watching a TV show you love or applying a face mask, to taking a long walk on the beach or eating a doughnut from your favourite bakery. In short, being kind to yourself is one of the most important things you can do while you’re grieving.
 


5. Build a support network


During the grieving process you might find your friends and family – however well intentioned –  struggle to empathise with your circumstances. In this situation it can be useful to find a group of peers who understand what you’re going through.

 

Yorkshire’s Brain Tumour Charity run a regular peer-led bereavement support group where people who have lost a loved one to a brain tumour in Yorkshire gather in a safe space to speak to others who really understand.
 


6. Contribute to a cause


Many people who have experienced the loss of a loved one find contributing to an important cause – often a cause that was important to the person they’ve lost – to be cathartic and helpful to the grieving process.

 

Doing something that makes a difference such as fundraising or volunteering can help the healing process. Likewise, signing up for a charity challenge can help you make a difference while also giving you something positive to focus on.

 

7. Give yourself time

There is no limit to how long the grieving process should last. You will carry the loss around with you for the rest of your life, but you can eventually get to a place where you feel better day-to-day. When this is will be different for everyone, some might start feeling better after six months, others can still feel terrible after two years. Neither of these are wrong and it all depends on your personal circumstances. The most important thing is to be kind to yourself and accept that it will take time, the death of someone close to you is overwhelming and you should make sure you allow yourself as much time as you need.

 

If you want to understand more about the grieving process and some of the emotions you might feel, we have lots of helpful resources on the bereavement pages of this website.

 

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