• Finding Your Unique Path Through Grief

    Finding Your Unique Path Through Grief

    Grief is a natural part of life. Inevitable losses — of a spouse or relationship, a pet, a friendship — can provoke pain and a sense of profound emptiness. While there’s plenty of well-meaning “how to” information available, grief is a unique experience for every individual, so being sensitive to your unique circumstances and reactions is the best guide. But there are some common themes. In my counseling practice, I’ve found five principles that have been helpful to many people who are grieving.


    1. Don’t skip grief. Denial is a normal part of the grieving process that can help you absorb and manage the pace of accepting the loss. Attempting to skip grief altogether — tamping down the emotions and not acknowledging and dealing with them at all — can undermine your health, your relationships, your career and your happiness.


    1. Don’t grieve alone. It’s normal and helpful to take some time for yourself, to be alone with your loss to process it. But complete isolation is not healthy for most people, especially in times of grief. It can lead to loneliness and exacerbate feelings of sadness. Turn to a trusted spouse, friend or family member. If those aren’t available, a support group, church, community group or counselor can be good sources of comfort and assistance.


    1. Allow yourself to take a break. Touching the loss — really feeling it — is important. But it’s just as important to take a break from the pain when needed. Go for a walk. Call a friend. Notice something beautiful around you: a burst of springtime flowers, a painting or your favorite music.


    1. Accept help. Allow people to bring you meals or assist with household tasks. You may feel that you’re burdening others if you let them help, but that’s not true. People enjoy helping those they care about, and you may be giving them a greater sense of purpose in their own lives. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need, such as a ride to a grief support group, help with chores or company in going out for a movie.


    1. Honor the loss. When the time is right, consider if there’s a way to meaningfully commemorate your loved one through a memorial service or a tangible tribute, like dedicating a bench or a brick in a public space. Perhaps you could begin a new ritual, such as gathering with friends on a significant date.


    Don’t fall into the trap of minimizing grief. Instead, try to work through it. Grief helps you make room in your emotions and your life for what comes next. Sitting with the pain, learning from it and honoring the loss will help you be more emotionally prepared to move forward.


    If you decide you want help or support, you can start by searching online for grief support groups in your community. There are also a number of good books about grief; I would recommend Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss, by Chuck DeKlyen. If you’d like to talk to a professional counselor, you can reach me at 407-579-2070.

    Therapy services available via Telehealth.