This morning I started to receive quite a few messages into both my personal and business inboxes. People are reflecting on life and death today (the death of music legend & artist David Bowie has triggered many raw emotions in people that relate to their own personal feelings around loss) and I’m looking to support those feelings to the best of my ability. The main question I am being asked is ‘how do I deal with grief?’, and although I can’t tell you exactly the best approach I can say without hesitation that bottling emotions up is rarely the best answer. When you’re grieving or feeling raw or vulnerable, it’s incredibly important than ever to take care of yourself. The stress of a loss can quickly drain your energy and emotional reserves. Looking after your physical and emotional needs will help you get through a difficult time.
- Ask for support. Friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, a therapist……know that there is someone out there for you who is capable of supporting you without judgement.
- Face your feelings. You can try to suppress your grief, but you can’t avoid it forever. In order to heal, you have to acknowledge the pain (sorry but it’s true). Trying hard to avoid feelings of sadness and loss only prolongs the grieving process and that can get a bit leaky and messy. Unresolved or unacknowledged grief can also lead to crappy complications such as depression, anxiety, alcohol or drug abuse and health problems.
- Express your feelings in a tangible or creative way. Write about your loss and your experiences of grief. If you’ve lost someone close consider writing a letter saying the things you never got to say; make a scrapbook or photo album celebrating the person’s life; or get involved in a cause or organisation that was important to him or her. Draw, paint or put together a scrapbook. Honour them but in a loving boundaried way.
- Look after your physical health. The mind and body are connected (sorry i know that’s probably obvious but it’s worth saying again). When you feel good physically, you’ll also feel better emotionally. Combat stress and tiredness by getting enough sleep, eating regularly and well, and consider some exercise. Don’t use alcohol or drugs to numb the pain of grief or lift your mood artificially (even prescription drugs if you can help it). If you need support to sleep or to manage changes to your appetite please do seek help.
- THIS IS IMPORTANT. Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel, and don’t tell yourself how to feel either. Your grief is your own, and no one else can tell you when it’s time to “move on” or “get over it.” Let yourself feel whatever you feel without embarrassment or judgment. It’s okay to be angry, to yell at the heavens, to cry or not to cry. It’s also okay to laugh, to find moments of joy, and to let go when you’re ready.
- Plan ahead for grief “triggers.” Anniversaries, holidays, and milestones can reawaken memories and feelings. Be prepared for an emotional wallop, and know that it’s completely normal. If you’re sharing a holiday or lifecycle event with other relatives, talk to them ahead of time about their expectations and agree on strategies to honour the person you loved.
- Allow yourself time to grieve on anniversaries or particular dates. Don’t plan anything major on these days and book time off if you need to. Be gentle with yourself and let yourself ‘go there’ for a concentrated and boundaried period of time if you need to.
I hope this helps. Lori X PS) Bowie I love you and feel rather sad…..
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