Most people experience loss, grief or some kind of trauma during their life. Whether it’s a serious breakup, the death of someone close to you or the loss of a dream, grief and the accompanying emotions of confusion, despair and sadness are difficult to manage. If you or someone you know is going through a hard time, try these top five tips.
- Recognise that your grief is unique: Yes, everyone experiences grief and loss. But the kind of grief a person goes through is always unique. If you feel frustrated that no one can relate to your pain, remember that this is only because they cannot completely understand it – not because they don’t care. Let people support you in any way you see fit, whether it’s being there to talk, or simply providing companionship.
- Expect it to take time: For most people, intense grief will take 3-6 months to overcome, a paper in The New England Journal of Medicine reports. Your pain will get better in time – but don’t expect it to be a quick and easy process.
- Set yourself goals: While it’s important to come to terms with whatever it is that has happened in your life, learning to function through your grief is vital. For example, after a bad breakup it’s natural to want to spend a week in bed. Allow yourself this time, but give yourself a goal of one week (or more, depending on the circumstances) where you return to work or resume some normal activity, such as going to the gym.
- Don’t try to forget: Don’t try to forget about the person or thing that has caused your grief. While it might seem like it will ease your pain at the time, you will regret throwing out photos or meaningful items once you have begun to heal. Accepting that this person or thing was a big part of your life and shapes who you are. If you need to, put things in a box so you can revisit them later.
- Be kind to yourself on key dates: When it comes to the first birthday since you broke up with your partner, or the first family event without that relative who passed away, give yourself respect and compassion. Times like these can reignite the grief you have begun to overcome. Let yourself reflect and gather your thoughts.