Everyone’s grieving process is different
, but one constant is the need to feel what we’re going through and learn how to process grief in a healthy way. Within the span of one month, I lost two people very dear to me. One from my past, someone who had known me longer and better than most. The other a close friend, mentor, and inspiration in my life. Both devastating. If you’re reading this article, then you’re in the grieving process too, or know someone who is. You’re looking for healthy ways to cope, process, and embrace your grieving as a way to move through it, just like me.
The sadness and loss will always be there, but by processing it, we’re able to gather strength, wisdom, and the motivation to keep going.
This article will address how to process grief in a healthy, healing way. Similar to the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance), I’ve established a grieving process for myself that feels nurturing, compassionate, realistic, and supportive. I share it with you in the hopes of it providing some comfort or support in your own grieving journey. This isn’t the first time I’ve processed loss and grief. My maternal grandparents passed away several years ago. They raised me, we were very close, and it was a hard and heavy loss. But what it taught me was how to grieve in a way that allows me to move through and beyond it. The sadness and loss will always be there, but by processing it, we’re able to gather strength, wisdom, and the motivation to keep going.
Support Your Grieving Process With These 7 Steps:
If you’re wondering how to process grief in a healthy, productive, and healing way, read on to learn the techniques that taught me how to process grief.
1. Allow Yourself to Feel All the Feels
So often when you’re confronted with heavy loss, it seems easier or more socially acceptable to deny what you’re feeling or stuff it deep down inside. But grief is not linear, and no two people will have the same experience or reaction. Meaning: you may feel fine one day, devastated and paralyzed the next, then angry, numb, and sad all over again. Allow yourself to feel whatever comes up for you. There is no right or wrong, and there’s no deadline for when you need to feel a certain way by, so simply settle into the sensation of whatever each moment brings, and allow yourself to really sit with those emotions.
2. Journal, Talk About It, Address It
We tend to hold a lot of feelings and emotions inside of us. They build up and create tension, both physically and mentally. These bottled up emotions can also compound over time to create lasting depression or trauma. It’s important for our mental health to express ourselves and share our feelings. Journaling is a great release. It’s a way for you to pour everything you’re feeling out and onto the page, where you can then leave it. I’m not claiming journaling is a cure-all, but I do stand by the notion that writing it out GETS it out. Same with talking. Whether you have a trusted friend or confidante, or if you prefer to see a licensed therapist, it’s so important throughout your grieving process to use your support system and talk through what you’re feeling as a way of processing.
3. Channel the Emotional Energy
There’s no way around the fact that this is a very emotional time. Since we can’t avoid or stop this, we can instead channel these emotions into a positive outlet. Perhaps you find joy in volunteer work. Maybe this is a great opportunity to explore an art form you feel drawn to as a means of self-expression and release. You can also channel this energy into starting a new wellness regimen or meditation practice. Find inspiration and motivation in things that fill your cup and light you up, and do more of that. As part of the grieving process, it’s important to be aware of and intentional about where your energy and attention is going.
4. Prioritize Yourself
Real talk: You are healing. It’s a process. It won’t happen overnight and it will be challenging. This is why prioritizing yourself and your specific needs is more important than ever! Take plenty of time for self-care. And while epsom salt baths or massages are never a bad thing, I’m also talking about regular rest, napping or going to bed early / sleeping in when you need to (and can). If you need to take a mental health day, do it. If you can’t focus then don’t force it — instead, take yourself on a walk or jump on your yoga mat to reset. Practicing self-care, giving yourself a lot of compassion, and staying committed to putting yourself first is key for healthy processing and grief management.
5. Be Extra Kind + Compassionate With Yourself
You are going through a difficult time. Please be kind to yourself and compassionate towards your needs. Don’t rush yourself or hold yourself to certain standards or expectations. Like I mentioned before, there’s no time stamp or expiration date on grief. Everyone experiences it and processes it in their own way. If you’re struggling to find acceptance for yourself during this time, focus instead on building yourself up, taking care of yourself (see #4), and lean on your support system (see #2). You WILL get through this!
6. Honor Their Legacy
Another huge step in the grieving process is honoring your loved one’s legacy. This has been incredibly healing for me. When I was first mourning my grandfather’s death, I felt like I’d never recover from the deep sorrow of losing one of the most important people in my life. It wasn’t until I realized that, while I could never get him back, I could
continue his legacy through the way I live my life. Pop was hilarious – he made everything in life fun, an adventure, and always had the best attitude. He was incredibly kind, humble, selfless, and generous. He was a loyal friend who kept his word, always did his best, and was deeply committed to his family, his work, and his passions in life. I would always miss these things about him, but I could also BE these things myself, and in so doing continue the legacy that my grandfather left behind. In honoring the legacy of our loved ones who have passed away, we hold onto their memory, we acknowledge the impact they had, and we help ourselves through the grieving process. Can Gratitude Help You Heal After Losing a Loved One? A Survivor’s Journey Through Grief
7. Stay Mindful
The final step in how to process grief? Approach your grieving mindfully. Every day, check in with yourself. How you’re feeling, where your head’s at, what you need … create a simple self-care schedule and stick to it. Be mindful of how you’re interacting with your grief. Are you avoiding or accepting? Are you healing or self-sabotaging? Please try to resist the urge to think you’re “wrong” or “weak” for these things. I only list them because I was/am there myself and know that grief can become a slippery slope of emotions. During my own grieving process, a friend gifted me the book Grieving Mindfully: A Compassionate and Spiritual Guide to Coping With Loss
. This book discusses how to approach grief through the lens of mindful healing, with practices to help you find comforting wisdom, coping techniques, and emotional resilience.
Processing Grief: Final Thoughts and What Comes Next
Unfortunately in life, loss is inevitable. And while that simple fact doesn’t make our pain any less significant, when we can equip ourselves with the tools to grieve in a healthy way, we’re better able to cope, process, and move forward. Take it one step at a time, be kind and compassionate with yourself, keep your support system strong and lines of communication open, and keep moving forward – on your terms and in your own time. If you need support, National Alliance on Mental Health is a great resource. You can visit their website or call their helpline: 800-950-NAMI
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