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Emotional Healing and Coping with Grief: Navigating Life After Loss

Explore the complex journey of grief and the normal range of emotions that accompany loss. Learn how to cope, heal, and find support during times of grieving.
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By Olivia Short

Grief develops in the wake of experiencing a loss, especially when there is a large change that disrupts life. Loss can come in different forms, be it losing a loved one, an enticing opportunity, a close relationship for any reason, a change in circumstances, etc. Anything, big or small, good or bad, can result in grieving and the grief process, especially when it is a meaningful loss. August 30th is National Grief Awareness Day, and we would like to take a moment to shed some light on a topic that everyone will experience at some point in their lives.

“Grief is love with no place to go.” – Jamie Anderson

Creating Normalcy Around Grief

It is normal to have many different feelings during the grief process. Grief can be envisioned like the waves in the ocean, sometimes calm and sometimes a storm. The stormy days can feel sad, lonely, confusing, exhausting, overwhelming, scary, and so much more. Other days, one might be able to sit in the quietness, numbness, and emptiness. We don’t often associate feelings of happiness, gratitude, love, calm, and even relief, but these are completely normal in the waves of emotions following a loss. All your feelings are valid; it is okay to seek support to work through them.

“You can’t truly heal from a loss until you allow yourself to really feel the loss.” – Mandy Hale

Dr. Kübler-Ross created the well-known Stages of Grief to give us names to the messiness of grief, but there is no timeline or order to the grief process. There is no doubt that denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and eventually acceptance occur in the process. There is also so much more, and it can seem as if there is no rhyme or reason to it. Everyone’s grief process is different and cannot be put into a structured format. 

Stages of Grief graphic

“There are really only two stages of grief: who you were before and who you are after.” – Ted Rynearson

Grief Holds No Expectations

There is no requirement to adhere to any expectations while grieving, especially the expectation to be okay. One day you may feel okay and then that smell, place, sound, or laugh can bring it all back. While going through the grief process, do not put demands on yourself or feel required to do anything. Going through this time will be unlike anything else, so take it as it comes. 

“You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you’ll learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Graphic about "growing around grief" from Lois Tonkin. Reads: People think that grief slowly gets smaller with time. In reality, grief stays the same size but slowly life begins to grow bigger around it.

It is important to feel one’s feelings during this time and talk it out with someone. As hard as some days may be, it is beneficial to lean into coping skills, self-care, and a support system. Trying to find some kind of daily routine, maintaining daily habits and hygiene, getting outside, and engaging in gentle movement can be helpful along the way, but don’t forget to take time to allow feelings to come and go. Allow the ebb and flow of emotions without judgment…all emotions are allowed and serve a purpose. If you or someone you know is experiencing some form of grief, and it feels unbearable, please seek support from a professional who specializes in grief and loss. 

“Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone.” – Rodgers and Hammerstein, Carousel

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