One of the those difficult, but inescapable human experiences we all deal with is loss. Sometimes it’s losing a loved one that has us spiraling into sadness and depression. But it can also be the loss of a dream.
How do we get over what feels like gripping physical and emotional pain?
Carve Your Own Path
As a counselor, I worked with children mourning the loss of a parent. I learned that each child grieves in their own way. Some needed to talk about it. Others were able to physically express what they verbally could not. As you work through your own loss, be open to exploring different ways of healing. Sometimes the act of physically doing something can reconnect you to a vulnerable part of yourself. Painting, writing, and exercising are all healthy ways of coping that can help you to improve your mood and manage your grief.
Lean On Others
There is nothing shameful or embarrassing about crying or feeling sad. In fact, opening up to others and showing them your vulnerability is not only healing, but it can be a balm to help heal others. The thing is you’re not meant to deal with this alone. Find a friend to lean on when you feel like you can’t cope. And when that isn’t working, seek out the support of a therapist or a counselor. When loss leads to depression and anxiety, it can mean you’re not just dealing with average symptoms of sadness, but a more serious condition psychologists label, “complicated grief.” In the APA article A New Approach to Complicated Grief, Karen Kersting says, “Distinguishable from depression and anxiety, it is marked by broad changes to all personal relationships, a sense of meaninglessness, a prolonged yearning or searching for the deceased and a sense of rupture in personal beliefs.” If you feel like your sense of loss and spiraled into complicated brief, please seek professional help.
Don’t listen to others who say you should just, “get over it, “let it go,” “move on with your life.” Be kind to yourself and let the natural process of grief flow. Let yourself cry and grieve, laugh and be angry. Take time to take care of yourself and be gentle as you work on healing yourself.
Join a Support Group
There’s nothing better than finding others who are going through what you’re going through. It is only in the understanding of another soul that you will gain back your strength, find the courage you didn’t think you had and develop the resilience you need to bounce back. In-person and online support groups are both great resources to help you with whatever you’re going through.
Find Meaning in Your Loss
You won’t get there immediately. But after you’ve spent time grieving and mourning your loss, being able to find meaning in the madness can help you find your way back to the living. Making meaning out of grief will not be easy. But you will find that in time staying connected with your loved one, having gratitude for their presence, and remembering the good memories and impact they had on you will not only help you get through it, but will positively change your life.