One of the most devastating experiences we must endure in life is grieving the loss of a loved one. Although we have the knowledge that everyone will eventually die, and we logically understand the finality of death, no amount of information can prepare us for the devastation of the actual experience. Losing someone we love for the first time can be overwhelming. Trying to comprehend the finality of this separation is a shock to our system. We can feel angry, anxious, or depressed.
Experiencing grief differs for each person. How we endure, experience, and eventually thrive is unique to each individual. Although Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) are very well known, they are still imperfect: not everyone will experience those exact emotions. There is no road map and no timeline when it comes to grief. When you start to feel better is largely up to you.
One of the most important things to recognize when it comes to grief is that the length of time you spend in mourning, or the depths of the sadness you feel, are not a measure of how much you treasured the loved one you lost. At the same time, it’s unhealthy to try and “skip over” the period of mourning by burying yourself in work or play. The only way to the destination at the end is to walk the road and to do that you must let the feelings come up: cry when you need to cry, and laugh when you need to laugh. If the sorrow you’re experiencing is overwhelming, here are some activities to try and alleviate it.
If you find yourself spending too much time crying and upset, schedule a time to feel sad. Give yourself one hour when you can cry as much as you like. But when the hour is up, wash your face and do something nice for yourself.