Here’s a Loaded Question: How Can We Overcome Grief?
Updated: Jan 30
By Jill S. Cohen, NYC family grief counselor
The reality is that your loved one who has died is no longer here physically on this earth with us. Since we can’t change that fact, how can we try to overcome loss and grief? There are ways to work through the grief.
A big one is a mindset shift. Mindset change is talked about often these days, but in the case of grief, the term would mean shifting your mindset from anxiety and upset to personal growth.
Just as happiness is a universal feeling, grief is one that we will all grapple with at some point. Whatever the source of the grief is, learning to handle it is necessary in order to move forward and live a fulfilling life.
Some experts provide the following ideas which help achieve this goal head-on:
Don’t blame yourself. (I covered blame/guilt/grief in last week’s blog). Also, try not to succumb to “survivors’ grief,” in which you wonder why you are still alive when your loved one is not.
Meet your emotions head-on. Don’t try to stuff them or ignore them. Grief demands your absolute and full attention, in the form of engaging in positive ways of release, i.e. talking about it with people whom you trust or finding a grief counselor so that you have a safe space to process your feelings.
Surround yourself with positivity. Anyone who wonders why you’re “still” grieving or asks what’s wrong with you, is not healthy for you to be around. You need to focus on your feelings, not responding to other people’s reactions to your grief process.
Allow your grief to help you with your own personal growth. Grief and loss are very intense and they give us opportunities for deep reflection and growth. Often, from experiencing the death of a loved one, we learn big life-lessons. I recently read a meaningful quote that said, “Grief provides an opportunity for self-growth because it teaches critical lessons. Lessons that are key to successful transformation. Grief will bring out the authentic YOU because it lets you face your own mortality.”
A study published by the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine found that a specially designed eight-week mind-body program can help reduce stress in adults after a loss. The components include: -Take up yoga, or tai chi for relaxation and stress reversal -Maintain a healthy diet -Get enough sleep because grief is emotionally exhausting -Get moving -Even a daily walk will help ease the feelings associated with grief -Keep your health in check -Schedule regular appointments and remember to take your medications as needed -Take on new responsibilities that will keep your mind focused on a task -Reach out to your social support network and circle of friends and family
Be patient with yourself. Dr. Phil McGraw, the psychologist and TV show host reminds people that they need to give themselves time to accept what has happened. There is no schedule for when you should feel certain emotions or be done with other emotions. While crying and being depressed, it’s also important to remember to keep putting one foot in front of the other to move forward.
Accept what you can’t change and focus heavily and consciously on what you can change. Mentally, spiritually and emotionally, you have to accept the reality of your loss and let go of the part of the past that you cannot bring back.
In Dr. Phil’s book, Real Life: Preparing for the 7 Most Challenging Days of your Life, he talks about the importance of not getting stuck. It’s easy to get stuck in this negative experience and all the emotions around it, so you need to work hard to prevent getting stuck in anger or bitterness. Do what you need to do to avoid getting stuck. Also, focus on all the reasons you need to return to being the person you were before the loss.
Most importantly, realize and understand that you can’t overcome grief overnight, nor should you try. And you can’t get through grief with destructive behavior. Take your time, and USE the resources available to get you through this tough time as smoothly as possible – books, support groups, grief counselors.
WITH THE RIGHT MINDSET AND THE RIGHT SUPPORT, YOU CAN OVERCOME GRIEF!
For more informative posts and articles on how to deal with grief, visit www.jillgriefcounselor.com and click our latest posts on the blogs tab. If you want to see if you or someone you know would benefit from grief counseling, go HERE to download a free resource.