By: Courtney Johnson, LPC
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay, Creative Commons
As a counselor, we see clients for a variety of reasons. Some come in for depression, others for divorce, and others come in just in hopes to better themselves. Every topic brings unique challenges, but one of my favorite topics to counsel is grief.
I enjoy counseling grief because grief is somewhat paradoxical in that it is universal-we all experience grief at some point in our lives. However, everyone experiences grief differently. Not only that, each person grieves in their own way when different loved ones pass away.
There is not one specific formula on how to grieve and though everyone grieves in their own unique way, I felt it was important to write a blog of tips and things to remember when you or someone you know is grieving.
1. Don’t put a time limit on it– Grief evolves and changes over time. Take as much time as you need, or as little as you need. And don’t feel guilty about the amount of time it takes you.
2. Give yourself some grace–When we lose someone, it throws our routine off track. Family systems may change; work responsibilities change, or friendships are altered. Your brain is coping with change so it may be more difficult to complete ordinary tasks. Don’t make any big decisions. It is easy to be tempted to make big changes right away. I encourage you to take some time, think about it and be sure you are ready to make that change.
3. Practice self care– Grieving is emotionally draining. It is so important to incorporate ways to fill yourself back up. Go to a park, take a warm bath, listen to your favorite music, journal, walk the dog, make your favorite meal, etc.
4. Trust your intuition– you know yourself best. If you feel like you need to go visit the cemetery, go visit the cemetery. If you need to write your loved one a letter with all the things you didn’t get a chance to say, do it. If you feel like something would be a healthy way to express your grief, I encourage you to try it even if it something new you have never tried before such as painting, or writing.
5. Create new traditions– Especially after losing a family member, holidays, birthdays, or events can be difficult or need to change. I encourage you to talk to your family to create new traditions. These new traditions can also help honor your loved one. For example, cook your loved one’s favorite recipe or watch their favorite Christmas movie around the holidays. Don’t be afraid to try something altogether new.
6. You are not a burden, reach out to your support system– When people are sad, it is easy for them to withdraw and not ask for help. They feel guilt that they are “bringing down” everyone else. You are not bringing anyone down. Your support system wants to help. They could help in little tasks such as accompanying you on errands, making a meal to keep in the freezer until needed, or just sitting with you for a few minutes.
7.Take care even after time passes– Anniversaries and birthdays are hard no matter how much time passes. Grief is never completely gone; it just changes and becomes easier. It is absolutely normal to feel sad on days of significance. On these days, take off work if you are able and practice self -care.
8. They will never be forgotten– This is one of the most important points. So often, people worry that they will lose the person forever or that their memory of them will fade. While their physical body may not be here any more, you have your memories. You will be reminded of these memories at odd moments when you are least expecting it. Your loved one has shaped your life in many ways and because of that, they will never be forgotten.
These are just a few tips and suggestions for those that are experiencing grief. Sometimes, more professional help is needed for the grieving process. I know our practice would love help you.
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