Overcoming Grief

Overcoming grief is a uniquely personal experience and how you cope is a result of:

(a) your own life’s journey

(b) the way in which the loss happened

(c) the degree of unfinished business between you and the person who has passed and

(d) your own relationship with your feelings and life

It is important to trust that you will discover who you are again and you will learn to experience your life in a new kind of normal, which permits you meaning and purpose. Don’t resist this because you are in pain, you are frightened and you are angry. You will need time. 

Grief, is incredibly difficult because our normal way of being is no longer possible, and most people have to renegotiate a new sense of who they are and how they will carry on living in the face of their new reality.

This experience is a psychological awakening to life. To what it means to live and to love. It is after all because we love that we feel the agony of loss.

In order to cope with grief and heal we must pay attention to what our body, heart and mind are saying. 

Often my clients come to me because they feel fearful. Grief does bring up fear in almost everyone. It is terrifying to know that you can die, your loved ones can die, and nobody is safe from mortality. Most of us go about our daily lives not really bearing this in mind at all until death comes into our life. I’m not suggesting that we ought to live in fear of death. Not at all. I am saying the opposite. The paradox of life is that when we learn to embrace the end, we can feel the urgency to make our moments count, our life matter. People at the end of life often talk about the depth of meaning death has brought to them. To live a fulfilling and meaningful life also helps face death.

Coping with grief is complicated and here are some of my suggestions to help you cope.

  • Don’t block out what you are feeling. Let the pain out.  Make time to feel the grief and express it. Weep, shout, cry, go on long stomping walks, dance it out, write. Do that which helps you process the pain.
  • Trust in your capacity to heal yourself. It may feel like it will never stop. It will. The longer you bottle it up, the more pronounced the pain becomes and it will find other ways to seep out. It will become Depression, Anxiety, Addiction. It is normal to feel waves of sadness, unexpected tears and crying at unusual times. This is your grief.
  • Don’t try being superman or superwoman. You are not. Accept that you feel vulnerable and let those closest to you know that you are finding it hard and that there will be days when you may need their practical support.
  • Lean on people who get you. Even if it is just one person, be kind to yourself like that.
  • Don’t expend energy on people who don’t understand you. Grief is exhausting. You must put your own needs first. It’s ok to stop being the pleaser, the life and soul of the party, the joker.
  • If you have to keep the show going, you have children or work demands, be kind to you and make sure you find some time for you even if it is a little bit of time every week. Do something for you. You matter and you can, in that time, let your feelings come out. It is healing.
  • Don’t forget the basics – look after your body. Walk. Sleep. Eat.
  • Turn to nature. The healing power of connecting with something bigger than you is not to be underestimated. Seek out places that nourish your connection to being in the world.
  • Find meaningful life projects and don’t forget that returning to work can be a great buffer to your sadness.
  • Spend time nurturing the relationships that matter to you. 
  • Manage your expectations. You will heal from grief when you have found a way to feel secure in who you are, how you are and in what gives you meaning. This wont happen unless you work at it. It cant be done in a certain timeframe. You will need lots of time to get there. That is normal.
  • If you are struggling to cope, seek help. You are human and help is available.
  • You can contact me, or your Gp. Get help to support you through this incredibly profound life changing experience.

Published by

Dr Chloe

Dr Chloe Paidoussis Mitchell is a grief and trauma psychologist working in the UK today, an innovator in digital mental health technologies. She teaches, writes, supervises and works with clients form all over the world to help them adjust to traumatic life events. Most recently she was appointed as the clinical lead for the Minds for Life "Overcoming Grief" app and has developed strong expertise in delivering digital mental health apps.

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