finding ways to cope with grief

12 Mar 2019
Grief is part of the healing process after a loss. Knowing how to cope with it starts with understanding how you’re feeling and getting the right support.

At some point we all have to deal with grief – it’s inevitable. But the unexpected loss for anyone can be tough to cope with.

While grief is different for everyone, it can be hard to understand our emotions. Knowing a little about grief can help you through the healing process.

When we grieve the loss of someone close to us, or experience a loss of something we cherished, we’ll express this grief in different ways. We might feel shock and sadness at our loss. This might cause us to shut ourselves in our bedroom or stop our usual commitments at school or work.

There are some things you can do to help you cope, and with the right support your wellbeing can improve. Routine can be a good place to start. Routine is doing something the same way every day, so it feels familiar. This might be a regular morning routine like meditating when you wake up, then having breakfast, then brushing your teeth. A regular routine can help you deal with and manage your grief.

Grief is never easy to work through, but here are a few things you can do to cope with it.


Allow yourself to grieve

It’s OK to feel confused and overwhelmed by the range of feelings you’re experiencing.

Everybody will have different experiences with grief. Some people might want to spend time alone. They might go for walks in nature or spend the day listening to music and reflecting on their loss. Others might want to talk about their grief. They could talk to a family member, a friend, or seek help and professional support from a general practitioner (GP).

Grieving is a personal experience, so you might need people to give you space. That’s OK. Remember that it can be good to talk to someone about how your feeling, to help you process your emotions. If you do need some space, let your loved ones know and reassure them that you'll reach out when you're ready to.

Create positive memories

It can be a good idea to create opportunities to look at photos of the deceased and share memories of their life.

Research suggests that telling stories can strengthen our shared connections with loved ones. We share feelings of joy or recognise the difficulties we overcome, large or small.

Other ways to remember a loss is to create keepsakes like journals. Or you could write a letter to your deceased loved one and air out anything that you didn’t get a chance to say.

Honouring the deceased doesn’t have to be private either. You might create a Facebook memorialisation page to share your grief with others. Or find another way to demonstrate the significance of your loss in a respectful way.


Look after your health

Looking after yourself can help you have more good days than bad days. There are heaps of things you can do to look after your health, like:

  • Moving - staying active will help you sleep better, release stress and lower anxiety.

  • Eating for a healthy headspace – getting plenty of fruits and vegetables improves how we feel.

  • Sleeping well – to get a good amount of sleep to give you more energy, improve concentration and better deal with stress.

  • Connecting with others – building strong friendships.

It’s a good idea to focus on positive thoughts, rather than negative ones. We can choose what we want to think about, so choose to find positive things to dwell on each day.

Self-talk is critical for staying healthy during this time – your conversations might include: ‘it would be good to…’ or ‘I’m thankful for…’

When dealing with grief, some people might turn to alcohol and other drugs. While substances may numb the grief-induced pain, the effect is short-lived. Trying to avoid your feelings can make it harder to work through grief in a healthy way. If you're struggling with this, there are things you can do to cut back on alcohol and other drugs.

Stay connected

When you’re growing up and developing your independence, and a major event happens – it can be easy to think that you can solve this yourself.

But with grieving it’s important to confide people who you feel comfortable with. It’s never easy going it alone, so make sure that you connect with your friends and family, because they might also be grieving too.

There are heaps of community groups and online communities who you could go to for help. Find one by googling support groups in your area. It’s important that you feel comfortable in a safe space that’s supportive for you.