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Three Heartfelt Strategies to Cope with Grief

Updated: Jun 26

supportive group enjoying time at the park

Grief is a universal experience, yet it often feels deeply personal and isolating. For veterans, healthcare workers, working professionals, and grievers from all walks of life, navigating the complexities of loss can be challenging. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, a job, or a significant life change, grief impacts us all in profound ways. This post offers supportive strategies to help you cope with grief, drawing on personal stories, practical advice, and professional insights.


Understanding Grief and Its Impact


Grief affects everyone differently, yet its emotional weight is universally acknowledged. It can manifest as sadness, anger, confusion, or even physical pain. The commonly known stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—were initially derived from a study of those in hospice and are not strictly applicable to other forms of grief. These stages can overlap and resurface unexpectedly, rejecting the notion of a linear progression. Individuals may experience some or all of these stages multiple times. Understanding the impact of grief on individuals and communities is the first step toward finding effective ways to cope.


Denial is seldom part of the grief process. Most of us are painfully aware of our loss, and that pain is directly tied to our awareness.


I recall returning home from Iraq and learning that my best friend from high school had committed suicide. We hadn't spoken in years. My initial reaction was confusion: Did this person mean to send this message to me? Was it meant for someone else? Who is this person?


It took a few minutes for the reality to sink in, and hours before, the enormity of my friend's death translated into deep emotional pain. I was never in denial about his passing—rather, I was shocked and bewildered.


This experience underscores that grief really does not include denial and that it unfolds at different rates for everyone. No two experiences are alike, and we cannot compare our journey through grief to that of others.


Strategies to Cope with Grief


Building a Support Network


Importance of Connecting with Empathetic Individuals

Connecting with others who understand your pain can be incredibly comforting. A support network provides a safe space to express your emotions without judgment. Veterans, for instance, often find solace in groups like those found at the VFW or VA, where they can share their experiences with those who have walked a similar path.


Tips for Identifying and Engaging with a Support Network

1 Seek Out Support Groups:

  • Support groups, online forums for healthcare workers, and local community groups can offer a sense of belonging.

  • One individual explained how attending weekly meetings helped them process their loss and build lasting friendships.

  • Leverage chaplains. If they do not facilitate support groups themselves, they may know how to connect you with one.

  • If you have a faith tradition, consider consulting your local religious leader to see if support groups are offered.


2 Utilize Online Communities:

  • Platforms like Reddit and Facebook have dedicated groups for grievers, providing instant access to a supportive community.

  • A working professional shared how an online forum became her lifeline during the darkest days of her grief.

  • At the time of this writing, Military One Source provides non-medical counseling up to 365 days after discharge and has an online chat support option.


3 Lean on Friends and Family:

  • Don’t hesitate to reach out to loved ones. They may not fully understand your experience, but their support can still be invaluable.

  • A healthcare worker recounted how a simple conversation with a friend offered her unexpected comfort and perspective.


Practicing Self-Care and Acceptance


Significance of Self-Care in the Grieving Process

While support groups are important, practicing self-care is essential. Self-care isn't just about pampering yourself; it's about addressing your fundamental needs during challenging times. Accepting grief as a normal and natural response to loss is crucial for recovery. It's okay to feel vulnerable and give yourself permission to grieve.


Practical Self-Care Strategies for Grievers

1 Incorporate Daily Routines:

  • Simple acts like maintaining a regular sleep schedule, eating nutritious meals, and staying hydrated can make a significant difference.

  • It's not unusual to struggle with focus or to physically feel the weight of grief in your body. Concentrating on key tasks each day and adhering to a routine will reduce the mental load during this period of energy management.


2 Engage in Physical Activity:

  • Exercise releases endorphins, which can improve your mood and overall well-being. Whether it’s walking, yoga, or any form of movement, staying active is beneficial.

  • Many people tend to find solace in daily runs. Grief requires processing the loss and working through the unresolved, conflicting, and often overwhelming emotions, but there is also the mind-body connection. When the body is healthy and functioning well, the mind wants to be in harmony mentally and emotionally, and vice versa.


3 Practice Mindfulness and Meditation:

  • Techniques like mindfulness meditation can help you stay present and manage overwhelming emotions. Numerous apps and online resources are available to guide you.

  • I personally enjoy using noise-canceling headphones and playing audio recordings of nature, such as the waves at the beach or the breeze rustling through forest leaves. I then use visual imagery to imagine myself in those environments while simply taking the time to breathe and be at peace with how I am feeling. This is helpful for self-care all the time, whether dealing with stress, grief, or just being the best version of yourself by getting centered to face the day.


Seeking Professional Help


Recognizing When Professional Help is Necessary

While self-acceptance is crucial, grief can sometimes become too overwhelming to manage alone. Recognizing the need for professional help is a sign of strength, not weakness. If your grief is disrupting your daily life, it may be time to seek assistance from a professional.


Overview of Available Professional Resources

1 Grief Counselors and Therapists:

  • Specialized professionals can offer personalized guidance and support. They use various therapeutic approaches to help you process your emotions.

  • Particularly necessary if you have been struggling with grief for 12 months or more and/or have a sense of loss that is so profound you feel like you have lost a part of yourself. Ideations of self-harm may or may not accompany complex grief.


2 Adaptive Grief Tapping (AGT)™ and Grief Recovery Method®Ad

  • AGT™ combines tapping techniques with thought processing, utilizing the mind-body connection. Offered exclusively at Focused Pathways®, it allows you to do grief work without speaking much about your loss if you prefer not to.

  • The Grief Recovery Method® offers a more conversational and educational approach to completing the relationship with the lost person. It focuses more on discussing your loss.


Conclusion


Grief is a complex and deeply personal experience. Three effective strategies for coping are building a support network, practicing self-care and acceptance, and seeking professional help. Remember, seeking help and sharing your experiences with others is okay.


These strategies offer ways to cope and foster a sense of community and resilience. If you know someone who is struggling with grief, please share this post with them. Together, we can create a supportive environment where everyone feels understood and valued.


As an added resource, I'm offering a free AGT™ video to help take the edge off. When you're ready, schedule your free consultation call with me at Focused Pathways®. May this be the first step toward a brighter, healthier future.






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