Grief sucks. There is no easy way through it. It rocks our world. It may come after a traumatic death. It may come after a job loss or multiple rejections during a job search. It may come when your spouse cheats on you or leaves you. Grief may make its ugly appearance after any loss – significant or otherwise. The more significant you loved or enjoyed what was lost, often the more difficult the grief is to work through.
After experiencing significant trauma in the quick-slow death of my dad to cancer during my teenage years and the death of a number of my childhood friends in my early 20’s, and then studying grief and behavioral health at great length during my master’s degree, you could say I am an expert in grieving.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned.
Grief takes a looong time. If, however, the bleakness and darkness of a grief after a loss does not *begin* to lift within a couple weeks, it is important that those who are hurting seek help. If there is no sun peeking in, reach out for help.
This does not mean it is gone or lifted entirely – or even lifted good chunks of the time. However, if there is no lift at all, not even a glimmer, ask for help. You may not need to seek a therapist at this point, but certainly a trusted friend or one who has experience with a traumatic loss, for support and encouragement.
If within a couple weeks, you do not have glimpses of the sun peeking into the darkness that surrounds a traumatic loss – if you cannot giggle or laugh occasionally – if everything still feels dark and heavy ALL.THE.TIME, it is time to seek help. Asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a sign of strength and courage. It takes guts to say, “this hurts and I’m not sure I’m OK”.
When the darkness hovers solidly for two or more weeks, and there is decreased appetite, a lack of enjoyment in activities previously enjoyed, and/or a desire to sleep/rest significantly more than prior to the loss/darkness, these are signs of depression and should not be ignored.
There are some simple techniques that can be employed to help you feel better. Do they erase your grief? In no way, shape, or form do they do this. However, they give you some new tools for your tool belt for dealing with and processing your grief. Click here for a few ideas.
Even though you have experienced a tragedy, you don’t have to buy the lie that you need to feel awful all the time.
Even though you have experienced a tragedy, you don’t have to buy the lie that you need to feel awful all the time. It is OK to laugh and smile and enjoy the things you used to enjoy. It is OK to recognize that some of those things will never be the same again. It is also OK to feel sad and lonely. But, that is not the place you want to stay all the time. Go for a walk outside, smell your favorite essential oils (hold them over your heart), read some Psalms, list 5 things you are grateful for. All these things can be helpful in lifting *some* of the weight that comes with grief.
Grief is manageable. Even when it feels overwhelming. You can overcome this. One moment at a time. One holiday, one birthday, one minute at a time. It is not about getting over the loss of a loved one (because that often does not happen); grief is about learning to live life in your new normal. It is re-writing your scripts for your future. This is often difficult work that is made easier in good community. So, get connected to a grief group, to a local church, to another organization and/or to your friends, who can walk with you through this messy, difficult time, who can love on you and share your pain.