August 30 is National Grief Awareness Day, and we wanted to constructively add to the conversation surrounding grief and loss. It can be somewhat of a taboo subject in some communities, and it can definitely be difficult to open up about personal traumas, especially within Latinx communities. But in order to move forward, and be able to process pain in constructive ways, we have to open up in order to heal. So whether you, or someone you know, is dealing with the loss of a friend, a job, a loved one, or anything else that causes hurt and pain — we’ve compiled 24 ways for you to healthily process that grief.
Even though you may not want to take care of yourself, periods of grief should be a time when you should put yourself first. So, read on, share this with your community, be a support for others, and connect with those who may know exactly what you’re going through.
Learn the 7 Stages of Grief
Once you learn the seven stages of grief, you will recognize what stage you are in and should be able to anticipate and prepare for what might follow. Knowledge is power, so knowing how we generally process loss, is imperative.
Lean On Your Faith
This is the time to lean on your faith, whatever that faith is. You need to pray, ask for clarity, grace, and guidance. You need to let go and let God. You also need to have faith in yourself, and your ability to get through anything and heal.
Be Sure to Eat
This sounds like such a simple thing, but when you are grieving, the last thing you’ll remember to do or want to do is to eat. But you have to. It’s not only a simple act of survival but it’ll help you feel less anxious as well. Eat healthy and wholesome and avoid foods and beverages that might make you feel worse. If you know someone who is grieving a loss, reach out and go over with a warm plate of food or help them with groceries, it might be one of the best things you can do for someone during a time like this.
Talk to Someone
Reaching out to someone to express yourself while you’re grieving can make such a huge difference. It can help ease your pain and give you the opportunity to love yourself again — or to feel love again. After suffering a loss, you need to lean on your support group — your family and friends. You could also choose to speak to a therapist and/or grief counselor who will know exactly what you’re going through and give you the proper tools to help you cope better.
But Understand that Your Loved Ones May Not Want to Talk Now
When you are going through a loss with others — family, a partner, friends, you may be ready to talk about it at times when others aren’t, or vice versa — and that’s completely okay. You have to respect that people are feeling different emotions at different times, and are at different parts of their grieving process. But don’t assume you can’t bring it up — someone may be ready to talk and share, but may perhaps be holding back as well. Just respectfully check-in, and ask if they are in a place to talk about their feelings and about the loss.
Recognize the Physical Signs of Grief
We often don’t connect what’s going on in our minds, heart, and spirit with what is going on in our bodies. It’s all connected. Grief can manifest itself physically, with symptoms such as headaches, body aches, insomnia, and foggy thinking. Be easy on yourself, and do things that will make you feel better like a nice bath with Epsom salt, a massage. stretching, and other forms of physical self-care.
Don’t Be Afraid to Cry
Crying is therapeutic. You will usually cry, whether you like it or not, and that’s not only perfectly okay, but healthy. You need to get it out, and you are under no obligation to be strong all the time. If you feel you might cry in a public place, like work, school, or anywhere else, you can let someone, like a supervisor, know in advance that you are going through something difficult.
Honor Your Feelings
You are most likely going to go through a roller coaster of emotions — sadness, anger, guilt, moments that you feel fine, etc. And it’s important to honor each and every one of those feelings. Try not to dwell in negative emotions for too long, but know that they are all a part of the process. During moments where you feel happy, don’t feel guilty for that — simply let yourself lean into that moment because it might be fleeting.
Give Yourself Time
Grief, like everything else in life, is a process. So, you’re not going to have everything figured out in a day, or a week, or even a year. You’re not going to automatically feel completely fine or you’re never going to have a bad day. But you will be able to go longer without feeling that intense pain. You learn how to live with your grief and loss and find many, many moments of happiness.
Read Books About Grief and Loss
While people will lovingly tell you, “I’m sorry for your loss,” you might feel like their words are empty, that they have no idea what’s happening to you. A great way to learn about what your experiencing, learn tools to help you feel your best, and realize that you are absolutely not alone in what you’re going through is to read books on grief and loss. Words by people who do know, and are not connected to you directly, will give you that factual information and guidance you may be searching for.
Self-care is paramount when you are feeling so sad, and out of sorts. Whether it’s a warm bath with Epsom salt, a brisk walk outside, spending time with friends and family, getting enough sleep, or eating a delicious and healthy meal, each thing you do to take care of yourself is one step forward you take towards healing your heart and spirit.
Don’t Isolate Yourself
Grief and loss will make you feel alone, and while you are in a state where you don’t feel in control of your moods and emotions, you may want to spend more and more time alone. This is perfectly fine, but make sure not to completely isolate yourself for too long. You will then just make yourself more sad and more withdrawn, removing yourself from any healthy support system. Positive human interaction does so much to help us shift our own mood.
Keep a Journal
Keeping a journal can help you to release a lot of pent up emotions, acknowledge and honor how you are feeling, and see where you can benefit from chatting with a friend or reaching out to a knowledgeable grief counselor. It also will show you how far you have come in your healing, when you look back and can literally see how you’ve grown, and have turned so many pages in your journey.
Listen to Music
Music truly heals. Take this opportunity to listen to music that will make you feel better, understood, and hopeful for the future. There is a song for every experience out there, and a singer or rapper who will not only reflect your feelings right now, but tell you that it does, in fact, get better.
Channel Your Feelings into Something Positive
Some great things come out of horrible life experiences. A lot of times, this involves art. The ability to channel your feelings into something that is positive and beautiful is truly a remarkable thing. It also helps to heal the heart, mind, and spirit. If you feel up to it, try painting, writing some poetry, or anything else artsy you are called to do. It will help you more than you know.
Get Enough Sleep
You have to sleep. In the beginning, it may be hard, even impossible. But you have to try to get as much quality sleep as you can. It will help you feel so much better and not work against your already-strained health. It will help the healing process. If you find you are sleeping way more than usual, stay in bed for long periods of time, and have no interest in things you normally do, you may be suffering with depression. Please speak to a qualified professional who could really help in this situation.
Get Some Exercise
Exercise is linked with the release of feel-good things, like dopamine, endorphins, and seratonin, in the brain. So, it’s a good idea to do at least some sort of exercise when you’re going through grief. It will keep you focused on something positive, motivated, and feeling better than you would if you didn’t break a sweat.
Spend Time in Nature
Why not do your exercising outdoors? This will give you the benefit of Vitamin D-providing sunshine, the opportunity to breath in fresh air, and hopefully be surrounded by nature. Connecting to the earth, and appreciating nature in all its beauty, is very healing in and of itself. But throw in a good walk, jog, bike ride, or whatever, and you’re in a total win win situation.
Spend Time With Your Pet(s)
If you have pets, you already know about their ability to completely change your mood and give you tons of unconditional love. This is great time to spend quality time with your furry friends, as the love you give will be returned to you, tenfold.
Live in Gratitude
In every moment in life, no matter how difficult, there is something positive that we can be grateful for. These things are our strength, what sustains us, and gives us hope. If you have to, make a list of 5-10 things you are grateful for. This will remind you of the greatness you have going for you in your life, at a time when it may be more difficult to see.
Join a Support Group
Another helpful tip for dealing with grief and loss is to join a local support group. Being around people who are going through the same thing as you, and being able to share with them, and them with you, can be very helping and healing.
Meditation is a great way to clear your mind, center yourself, and allow yourself to be in this very moment. Deep breathing, and disconnecting for a moment from already stress and anxiety producing tech will make you feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Be Honest With Yourself and Others
Like we mentioned earlier, you don’t have to be okay all the time. You are in the middle of a very stressful time, and have every right to feel the emotions you are feeling. You owe it to yourself, and others, to be honest about how you feel, what your needs are, and when you would like help. Open communication will help you get what you need, avoid any unnecessary additional conflict, and start your healing process.
Release Any Feelings of Guilt
We often don’t know what’s going to happen in life, and when someone or something is taken away from us, we are left with a lot of “what ifs” and “why didn’t Is.” This is normal, but you have to learn to let go of any guilt you are feeling. In life, we do the best we can, and that’s all we can do. Everyone knows this, so so should you. Love yourself enough to let it go, m’ijas.