11 Tips for Grieving in a Healthy Way

My mother died in April 2009. To some extent, a part of me will always grieve the
loss of her. Our culture looks at grief and associates it with “being weak”. If you are
still grieving someone, you are looked at as frail for not moving on already.

Society tells us that we are given a visitation, a funeral, a week or two away from
work if we’re lucky, and some “sorry for your losses” along the way. But then a shift
occurs. We are expected to move on and get over whatever has completely altered
our lives, in an instant, as if it never occurred. Why does our grieving process have
to look like this? Why do people sometimes feel uncomfortable with their own grief,
when the grieving process is on its own timeline?

The bottom line is that death makes people uncomfortable, even though death is a
linear part of life. To be uncomfortable about death is to essentially be
uncomfortable with life; we cannot have life, without death.

Because death is such a part of our lives, grieving can be a sense of experiencing,
processing, and letting go, if done in a healthy way.

Here are some tips on how to grieve in a healthy way:

1) Once the events of the recent death have stopped, do not be so quick to
remove the evidence of that person once being alive.
Sometimes we feel like the best way to move on is through the “out of sight, out of
mind” mindset, but this cannot always be healthy. Getting rid of their belongings
before one is ready to get rid of them can be detrimental to the grieving process.
This process should be done at one’s own pace. In the beginning, do not rush
yourself to let go of these items before you are ready. You also do not need to feel
like you have to get rid of everything either. I still have one of my mom’s old jackets
hanging in my closet. I never intend to wear it, but it is just nice to be reminded of
her every time I see it. Letting go is healthy, but diving in too quickly to try and “get
over” your grief, will only prolong the inevitable; comprehending that they have
died. Grief has its own timeline, so give yourself time to process it all.

2) Make something in memory of that person
This can be difficult, but also relieving. It can bring up feelings that you might have
been trying to push down, deep inside of you, to avoid feeling negatively. By keeping
this person’s memory alive in the little ways, it can help to release some emotions
that you may have not realized were building up. This can be done through many
different ways. Some examples include creating a shadow box, with pictures and
little treasures from this person; or it could be putting together a scrapbook with old
photos of this individual, to remind you of all of the happy times you had with them.
Making these items in memory of your loved one might not be an easy thing to do,

but it can feel like a sense of release, to be able to physically put your emotions for
this person together in a way that you can always remember them by.

3) Acknowledge your feelings
I touched on this slightly in the above tip, but do not try to keep your feelings locked
away in the depths of your heart, away from the world. Grieving sometimes means
taking time to release those emotions and give them a voice. If you are angry about
the way they died, or even that they left this earth in general, talk about it. By giving
your feelings a voice, you are unlocking your potential to heal. There were times
where a wave of emotion would come over me, and I would have no idea why I was
upset, but crying it out always seemed to make me feel better. Crying is not a sense
of defeat, but a way to release your emotions and let your body feel. Sometimes our
heart will ache, but that in itself is beautiful, because that means at one point we
loved something so much, that the thought of them no longer being with us, made
our hearts weep. By acknowledging your feelings, you are embracing what is, and
working towards healing.

4) REST.
Sometimes we forget this step, but it is so vital. After such a great loss, we forget to
just let ourselves rest. Our bodies, physically and emotionally, have gone through
great trauma. When we lose someone so near to us, we might physically get sick,
emotionally weep, or just have no energy from talking with others about what has
occurred in our lives over the last few months. Because of this, our bodies need time
to just rest and shut off from the surrounding world.

Trying to allow yourself rest, though, can be tricky. How does one shut their brain
off when they have so many different thoughts and emotions buzzing around? You
must find what works for you. For example, I have an app on my phone that plays
rain sounds when I have trouble sleeping. It has a timer that I can set, so the noise
will stop playing after a certain amount of time. This always helps to shut off my
brain and focus on the background noise, and typically helps me get to sleep rather
quickly. Another thing that has helped me at times, is to have a body pillow that I
sleep with. It may sound weird, but having something to “hug” when you feel empty
on the inside, can bring you comfort. Other ways to assist you can be working out
that day to release endorphins and wear out your body. Resting is very important to
the overall grieving process, so whatever you find to help put your mind and body at
ease, stick with it.

5) It’s is okay to not understand why
When my mom passed away, the one question that I just couldn’t quite wrap my
head around was why? Why did she have to leave this earth before me? Why did this
happen? Why does cancer exist? These questions are not for us to know or
understand, and that is okay. We may never know the answer to these questions.
Sometimes we have to be okay with not knowing in order to properly heal.

Do not try to spend so much time finding the answers to these questions. You may
end up back in the same place you started by doing this, because these questions are
truly not meant for us to find out. Coming to terms with what is, will help you grieve
and move on that much more quickly.

6) Don’t put a time limit on your pain
Grief does not go away with time; it simply matures. There is no timeline for
grieving. Repeat that to yourself. There is no timeline for grieving. Grieving,
unfortunately for us, is not something that we can read a book about and just
suddenly know how to navigate. We have to become comfortable with being
uncomfortable, and that is very hard to do at times. It requires looking deep into the
depths of ourselves, and recognizing parts of us that we may not want to face. This
can definitely be healthy to analyze ourselves in this way, in order to cope with what
we need to. This process can be as long or as little as you need it to be. There are 5
steps of grieving, and everyone will spend a different amount of time going through
each one. No two people view and process a loss in the same way, so what might
work for someone else, might not work for you. Just because that grieving process
did not work for you, does not mean that your grieving is wrong; it simply just
means that you need to heal in a different way, and that is okay. Always remember
to give yourself time to process, in order to let go.

7) Write about it
Journaling can be a very strong and empowering thing to do when it comes to
grieving of any sort. It is a great way to bring your emotions to life, and give
meaning to them. It also is a way to get them out of your head so you are able to
physically close your thoughts and put them to rest. It can be a sense of release as
well, to jot down your thoughts and feelings for the day. And if you ever decide to
look back on what you wrote, it can be neat to see how far you have come in your
grieving process.

I am a big believer in journaling, and what it can do for you throughout your healing
process. And it can be a great way for you to explore your own feelings, and try to
put them into words, so when you are explaining them to others, it is easier to share
because you already know how to describe them.

8) Reach out for support
For some reason, our society views asking for help as a sign of weakness. We all
need our hands held at times, even if we have a hard time admitting it. Sometimes
the best thing we can do for ourselves, is to admit that we need help, and that
whatever we are going through is bigger than anything we can accomplish on our
own. I highly recommend seeing a therapist if you can. Being able to share what you
are going through with essentially a complete stranger, whose job it is to make you
better, can be so relieving. They might help you think or look at something from a
new perspective, and give you a better understanding as to why you cope in the way
that you do about things. We are only human, and everyone has his or her breaking

point. Honestly you are the farthest thing from weak, if you can admit that you need
help. A lot of people cannot admit that, or do not want to admit it, but it can be truly
so empowering to give up your problems up to someone else, and lean on them for

9) Find a new hobby
Finding a new hobby can be a great way to occupy your time and thoughts. Maybe
when the person who died was still alive, you both talked about how much you
wanted to join a book club, or go try that new painting class. Not only can this be a
great tool for healing, but also it can make you feel closer to the person that you lost.
It can give you a sense of pride, knowing that they would have always wanted to see
you accomplish those things.

Another way of looking at it is that you now have this who new version of normal to
discover. All you have ever known, was the version of normal that included the
person that died. Now that this person has passed away, it is up to you to create
your new sense of normal. What does that look like to you? Often, one of the reasons
we grieve is not only because we miss our loved one dearly, but sometimes because
we now have to discover what that new normal looks like without them in our lives.
By taking up this new hobby, we can bring ourselves one step closer to discovering
who we are without our loved one by our side.

10) Practice being alone with your thoughts
This one can be very difficult, but is vital to your healing process. Occasionally we
just need to be alone with our thoughts in order to recognize what we are going
through. There is no way around grief, but rather you must go straight through it,
and hit it head on. It can be great to lean on others when we need them, but too
much of it can make us dependent on them, and our healing may become in
jeopardy. At the end of the day, you are the only person that can get yourself
through your loss.

11) Go easy on yourself
Your life has just been completely altered. Breathe, and give yourself time to take it
all in. Stop being so hard on yourself. There is no right or proper way to grieve
something. There is no timeline, or magic fix. You simply must take it all in and go
through the storm. It will not be easy, but it will be meaningful. Take it easy when
you need to, but do not beat yourself up for not being in a certain place based on the
timeline you have set for yourself.

Grief is a journey that everyone must walk in some form, throughout his or her
lifetime. If done in a healthy way, grief can be experienced, processed and let go of in
a healthy way. Find what works best for you to overcome your grief, and run with it.
After all, you are just trying to make sense of this new life, and discover how to wade
through these new waters.


Written by Brittany Husong from Kansas City, Missouri.




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