Coping with Grief and Loss

When you hear the word ‘grief’, what word or image comes to mind? Maybe death and tears? Or a funeral and a black suit/dress? While these images may pertain to the death of a loved one, grief and loss are more than just a one time/one-hour event. Grief and loss can occur from a fire or other natural disaster, the loss of a home or job, a car wreck or a medical diagnosis, a family cut-off or an abusive situation, divorce or break-up. It could come from realizing you’re not as close or in tune with your partner as you had hoped. Infertility and/or miscarriage can be a big source of grief and loss. In our society a miscarriage is not seen or treated as a death. There is no funeral or time off work. It’s one of the major silent and isolated sources of grief.There is one theme that coincides with all these areas of grief/loss: unmet expectations. “It wasn’t supposed to be like this! My life was supposed to look like___!” But you’re here. Amid your pain, this is the journey you are on, and, comparable to life, grief is a journey! It is a present continuous verb that doesn’t stop. Unfortunately, grief is not something that can be checked off the ‘To Do’ list. Unaddressed emotions and unattended grief can lead to self-damaging/neglectful behaviors, additional stress and depression.Finding a supportive community to walk with you in your grief is essential. However, sometimes the best intentions or ‘advice’ from friends can leave one feeling even more isolated and/or alone if their words are demeaning to your grief. Here are somethings you can do in the midst of your grief to begin the healing process:

  • Begin to listen to your body and emotions. Recognize your breathing, stress levels, and temperament.
  • Ask for help. If going to the grocery store or running a certain errand is too overwhelming, ask a friend. Surround yourself with helpful and compassionate people who are not afraid to sit with you in silence or who will watch your child(ren) while you and your partner take time to spend time together to listen and talk with one another.
  • Be patient with yourself. Give yourself grace and permission for the grieving process. Grief manifests itself in many ways and can appear out of nowhere. Seeking a professional therapist who will help you work through your loss is a great place to begin healing. As you work through your loss, you can gain acceptance and resolution. Having an empathetic person joining with you in your grief can bring a sense of purpose and meaning again.