Managing grief after the loss of a loved one is always painful. Last summer my grandmother, the rock of our family, passed away. She was the pillar that everyone came together around, and nothing has felt the same without her.
A few years before that, my husband and I had three miscarriages. While we were in the midst of those losses, we each nearly lost a parent.
The challenging thing about painful emotions is how persistent they can be. You may feel like you’ve dealt with them and that they’re not affecting you anymore.
But when it’s something as earth-shattering as the death of a loved one, it can actually have a greater effect that you realize. The resulting emotions can become a long-lasting part of your cellular makeup.
Recently I had a biometric scan done to determine areas of the body where I needed extra support and what supplements might help with that support. I was surprised by the results.
One area that scored surprisingly high for me was grief. For a brief moment I thought it was strange, but as I thought about it some more, I understood why.
The more I delved into our experiences, the more I realized I was still holding on to grief from the loss of our babies and the loss of my grandmother.
So how do you deal with grief? Here are four steps to managing loss.
First, let yourself grieve.
Don’t try to stuff the emotions inside of yourself; don’t try to pretend that they don’t exist. Recognize that grief is a normal process that every human has to go through when they experience a loss.
I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to show a lot of emotion. I tend to hide it deep inside myself and deny that it’s happening. I avoid talking about it.
So what ends up happening is I stuff and stuff and stuff so much inside until it’s too much and I explode emotionally—much to my own surprise and the surprise of everyone around me.
One moment I’m totally calm, and then something happens that’s like the “straw on the camel’s back.” I erupt like a volcano of emotion.
Clearly it’s not healthy to be holding on to all of this emotional baggage. I’ve worked a lot in recent years to consciously let myself go through emotional processes.
Instead of hiding the grief inside, I’m learning to recognize that the grieving process is something that I need to let myself feel and work through.
Second, while you are working through the grieving process, speak truth to yourself.
I believe that there’s a lot of power in our words and in the thoughts that we think. Whether they are negative thoughts or positive thoughts, our thoughts can affect so much about us.
If you’re speaking truth to yourself instead of lies, you’ll make much better progress in dealing with grief.
What are some truths you can be speaking to yourself as you’re dealing with grief? Here are a few truths that are effective for me to remember as I am tempted to focus on the negative and the pain of loss.
1. Life will go on.
I don’t mean for this to sound trite. I’m not saying that you should forget your loved one. I’m not saying the loss is insignificant.
What I am referring to is the idea that you will experience happiness again. It may not feel like it right at this moment, but you will experience happy moments again.
I remember the despair I felt after my first child was born. I felt an utter loss of a confidence as a new mom. Having a new baby is supposed to be a happy time, but I was so exhausted and overwhelmed. I thought I would never feel rested again.
But I was wrong. Eventually my son slept through the night. And eventually I did feel happy again.
Not being sure that things would get better made the experience 10,000 times harder. Sometimes the best thing to get you through is the knowledge that it will get better.
2. You will always love what you have lost.
You will never lose that love. Gradually grieving less as you heal does not mean you love less.
Focus on the good that you experienced with your loved one. With the babies that we lost, it was helpful to focus on the joy that we had felt in knowing that there was new life.
Reflect on the good and let yourself experience the love for that person or thing that you have lost.
As a Christian, I also believe that I will see my loved ones again in heaven. I clung to this truth through the grief and the pain of losing them.
3. There is growth in grief.
It might not seem like it right now, but something good will come of this. You will be a better person for the growth you’ll experience.
Even when it doesn’t feel like it in the moment, there are positive results that can come out of the negative experiences in our life. It’s like the diamond that has to undergo immense pressure in order to become something beautiful.
I truly believe that we are stronger because of our scars, not in spite of them.
Third, talk it out with somebody that you trust.
Maybe you talk to a loved one; maybe it’s a counselor or group therapy sessions. Talking about it is part of the process of letting yourself grieve.
Going through intense difficulty can be very isolating, so talking with other people who’ve been through the same or similar experiences is especially helpful. You’ll have validation for your experience and realize you’re not only person who’s ever experienced grief.
I talked a lot to my husband through my grieving, and when I’m feeling very negative and not doing so well on speaking truth to myself, he encourages me and reminds me of things that I know are true.
There is great encouragement in not being alone.
As you heal, you’ll find that find that helping other people through their own grieving experiences can also be very healing for you. Sharing my story with others has helped me to delve deeper into what my experience with loss meant for me and how I’ve grown through it.
Finally, as you’re working through your grief, be sure to guard your health.
Your mind and body are interconnected, and it’s crucial to take care of your physical health if you’re going through something that’s emotionally traumatizing.
- Try to exercise, even if all you can handle is a short walk around the block. Something is better than nothing. I understand that it can be hard to get yourself up off the couch when it feels like you’re drowning in grief. But that physical movement is going to do so much good for you.
- Get outside in the sunlight.
- Make sure that you’re eating right, eating healthy foods and not giving in to the temptation to binge.
- Take supplements to support your emotions and your entire body. Some that I have personally found specially suited for emotional support are vitamin D and essential oils.
Essential oils for emotional support
- The citrus oils especially are very uplifting and encouraging. One of my favorite blends, Joy, contains several citruses and ylang ylang, which is also an uplifting oil (and it smells amazing too).
- Frankincense is very grounding and spiritually uplifting. It can help you focus as you speak truth to yourself.
- Another personal favorite is Idaho blue spruce. I love trees, so the smell in itself is uplifting to me, but it has also been shown to support emotional balance as a whole.
If you’re using essential oils for mental and physical support, make sure you are using pure oils that are unadulterated. You want them to be of maximum potency so that they can actually be effective and not just smell good.
What have you found effective for dealing with grief?
Let me know about your experience. What has helped you as you work through grief?