Dealing With Grief

Many people wonder how to talk to a bereaved person, how best to support them, and how to express condolences correctly. But when grief hits you, it is not only painful, but extremely difficult to deal with a whole host of new emotions.

Lifehacker spoke with Emily Adams , an associate marriage and family therapist at the San Francisco Center for Mindfulness Psychotherapy , who often works with people who are grieving. In an email, Adams wrote that it’s important to remember that grief isn’t just something that comes with death: we experience it when a relationship ends, when we lose our job, or even when a dream disappears, “for example, a life that isn’t it was or will not be. “

“I’ve seen clients become aware of things that they lacked in childhood, or that may never happen in their future,” she says.

Whatever you mourn, here are some tips on how to survive.

The process is not linear

It is well known that grief has five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. So it can be confusing to find that one day you get angry, accept another, and then back down to bargaining. But Adams writes that it’s okay:

In my experience, people who grieve move from one stage to the next, and not always in any particular order. Usually the process of grief begins with denial and anger, but these experiences also arise much later in the process of grief. Sometimes depression and acceptance are the first to show up, and anger comes much later.

In her opinion, the process of sadness begins when we acknowledge the imminent loss or loss that has just happened. This is not exactly the same as acceptance, but admitting that you have lost something is the beginning of really letting go of it.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

You may not want to discuss your grief with everyone or even publicize it at all, although we do not always have a choice in this regard. Adams says we have a cultural expectation to say everything is fine, “very quickly after the loss.” A common concern she faces on the part of patients is the fear that anyone can tell how much they are hurting. You shouldn’t be afraid of this:

A person can be expected to act as if everything is ok, so when something is wrong it can be quite difficult to communicate and seek help. There can be a lot of anxiety about realizing how difficult it is to deal with this process alone, but uncertainty about how to get support, where to find support, or even what kind of support you need.

Giving up is not an easy expectation, but adding fear of what people think to your other emotions is too much.

Acting outside and acting in

When asked about unhealthy post-loss behavior, Adams shared her philosophy on how to tell if someone is walking a dangerous path in their grief:

In general, something to ask yourself or a loved one who is grieving might be, “I / are they acting or acting?” What I mean? Acting may look like pushing people away, reckless behavior, increased aggression, increased substance use, etc. “Acting” may be harder to detect, but may look like unwillingness to nourish oneself (physically, emotionally, spiritually), walk away, isolation , lack of interest, harmful self-talk (eg, self-accusation) and / or physical self-harm.

But she emphasizes that if you notice that someone is behaving in this way, you should meet him with “compassion, care and curiosity,” and not condemn or criticize. This also applies to yourself. When you are suffering, you deserve your own compassion. As Adams says, “The purpose of these habits is to calm strong, repressive emotions so that adding shame or judgment can make [them] worse.”

Some resources

Therapy is an important resource for times of bereavement, but there is still a lot of literature out there when it comes to dealing with grief. Adams claimed to be a fan of Pema Chodron’s When It Falls Down and Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant’s Option B: Dealing with Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy . But there are many stories on this topic because when you’re ready to dive into the books on grief, many of which you can find in this thread started by author Jessica Valenti.

But Adams said that an important resource that we often don’t consider is simply being in the world:

I always recommend spending a lot of time in nature! The life-death-life cycle is the most characteristic and most acceptable in nature, so nature can be a wonderful place where you can feel deprived and understood in your grief. This can be a great place to normalize death. Gardening can be very therapeutic in overcoming grief because a person can experience how death feeds new life, again truly normalizing the life-death-life cycle and bringing this acceptance of loss into everyday life.

She also said that it is important to remember that grief is a ritual. We overcome this by participating in it. Shouting at the top of the mountain, writing a letter in the forest and burying it, crying in the sea. Allow yourself to express your loss so that it does not remain the same within you. This is what grief does — it changes, but, according to Adams, does not “go away.”

She says, “It becomes easier to recognize, it becomes easier to know what you need in the moment, and it becomes less overwhelming.”

Your grief is not you. It’s just part of your life.


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