10 Tips for Managing Grief and Loss

If you have experienced the loss of a loved one there are no hard and fast rules that will make you feel better. Everyone grieves in their own way, however I have prepared a list of tips to keep in mind that might help you manage the feelings of grief that you may be struggling to deal with:

  1. Understand and be aware that you are not going crazy. Grief is a cocktail of bewildering emotions. It is like a roller coaster. Periods of seeming irrationality and unexpected anger do not mean you are going crazy.
  2. Take time out for yourself. Take time to be alone when you need it. Take time when you need to seek the support of others. Take time to perform the important rituals of loss and bereavement. Take time to consider all the options. Take time to make decisions. Take time to treat yourself kindly and gently. Know that it takes time to heal and give yourself that time.
  3. Friends and family will feel utterly helpless in the face of your loss. They will not know what you need unless you tell them. Do not expect them to be able to read your mind. Forgive them for their clumsiness and awkwardness and don’t mistake their words and actions for unkindness and insensitivity.
  4. The loss of a loved one can be as psychologically wounding as breaking a leg is physiologically wounding. Recovery is not something that will happen in days or even weeks. Despite what other people say to you, recovering from a loss is different for everyone. Listen to what your internal voice is telling you what you need. Don’t listen to the external voices telling you what they think you should be feeling or doing. You are your own person on your own personal journey.
  5. Keep a journal. A journal offers a means of expressing feelings and can also provide evidence that you are making progress through the tunnel of grief although you may not yet be able to see the light at the other end.
  6. Give yourself permission. Give yourself permission to be messy emotionally and otherwise. Give yourself permission to ask for help when you need it and permit yourself to have good days as well as bad. And give yourself permission to say ‘no’ when you want to say no.
  7. Treat yourself as kindly as you would treat someone else struggling with your experiences. Imagine what works you would say and things you would do for someone else in your situation and do these things for yourself. It may mean going for a walk, reading a book or magazine, going to the cinema, buying yourself some flowers. It may even mean taking a few days away by yourself.
  8. Seek professional help if you are feeling that you cannot cope. Many of us do not know how to deal with loss because it is still a bit of a taboo subject in Australia. There is no shame in asking for help and there is no shame in grieving. In fact, asking for help is a sensible thing when you are feeling overwhelmed.
  9. Grieve in your way. Everybody grieves in uniquely different ways. No one else can know what is best for you. There are no rules.
  10. Hang in there. Even though there will be times when you find it almost impossible to believe, you will get through.