Hi Ellie, I came across this, maybe it might help a bit.
While there’s no right or wrong way to grieve - whether it's the loss of someone
or something important to you - there are healthy ways to deal with some of the
emotions you may be feeling.
Step 1: Acknowledge your feelings
When you've suffered a loss - for example the death of someone close to you,
the end of a relationship or the loss of a job - you need to acknowledge the pain
you’re feeling and allow yourself to grieve. Feeling sad, angry, lonely or frightened
are all normal reactions, so allow yourself to feel them. You don’t have to keep
up a brave face for others.
After the death of her son, Liz felt that she had to ‘hold things together for my parents
who weren’t coping at all well, I didn’t allow myself to feel what was going on’. She
believes this made things harder for her.
If you try to ignore your feelings or bottle them up, they won’t go away. They may
even become worse and trigger other emotional health problems, such anxiety
Step 2: Get support
Support from others is one of the most important factors in healthy grieving.
Sharing your grief will make it easier to bear; being isolated can make it unbearable.
It’s not weak to need support.
When Charlie’s mother died, ‘So many people kept telling me how brave I was, how
well I was coping, but what if I’ d been in bits? I feared they might walk away if
I asked for help’.
Don’t be frightened, ask for support, from friends, relatives, others in a similar situation
or, if you feel you need it, a professional counsellor or therapist.
Some people want to help, but don’t know what to do or say. Even if they’re close to
you, they may find it hard to know what you need. Give them a hand and try and let
them know how they can help you.
Step 3: Let it out
Talk about the loss you’ve suffered, your thoughts, memories and emotions, with
friends and family. In the case of bereavement, talking might help family and friends
too if you’re all suffering the same loss. Try to think of the good times you’ve had rather
than dwell on the things you can’t change. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to people
close to you, try other routes. You could contact your GP or a bereavement counsellor.
Some people find it helpful to write down their thoughts and feelings. Liz kept a journal
or diary, ‘there were things I just I couldn’t say to anyone else but I needed to get them
It can also help to write a letter to the person you've lost containing all the things you
never got to say. Barbara found this helpful after her long term partner suddenly left
her for someone he'd just met. 'I wrote letters to him pouring out all the hurt and
anger - then I tore them up and put them in the bin. It helped get it out of my system'.
If you’re struggling to find the right words, try expressing your feelings visually
by drawing, painting or putting together a collage.
Step 4: Letting go
Grieving is a natural process, but problems can arise if you get stuck at one stage,
for example refusing or find it hard to accept your loss. If someone close to you
has died and you find yourself keeping the person’s room exactly as it was,
or laying the table as if that person is still there - creating a 'living memorial' to
that person - you are in denial and will find hard to get on with your life. Similarly
if you can't accept that a relationship is over. To deal with your loss in a healthy
way, you need to find ways of letting go.
It’s not about forgetting or betraying the person you loved, or discounting the time
you spent together, you can still keep their memory alive if you want to. Rather it’s
about finding good ways to say goodbye. One way of doing this is to think of a
commemorative or ‘goodbye’ ritual that will be meaningful to you.
If it's a person you've lost, writing a goodbye letter to that person can help. If it’s a
broken relationship, this may be the letter you never send, but just writing it may
help you reach closure.Or you could think of another 'goodbye ritual' such
as releasing balloons with messages tied to them or sailing paper boats with
candles in them down a river. There's no fixed way of saying goodbye, it's
a matter of finding something you feel comfortable with.
Step 5: Prepare for difficult times
The anniversary of when you met, birthdays, the anniversary of a death or break
up, the date when a baby would have been born, if you had an abortion – these
can all be difficult occasions to get through. Try and prepare ahead for these.
Arrange for other people to be with you if you don’t want to be alone. It might
help to commemorate them in some way, either on your own or with friends and
family. Likewise if you’re grieving for the baby you’ll never have, you may find it
hard to see people with children, so you might want to put these meetings off until
you’re feeling a little more robust.
Step 6: Don't cut yourself off
If you can, try not to hide yourself away all the time, but keep up with some
of your usual activities. Gabe, when he was made redundant, kept up with his
tennis. ‘I made myself play each week even though it was an effort to get myself
there in the first place. I forgot everything for a little while and I felt better for it’.
Keeping social and active will also help in the slow process of rebuilding your life.
When you feel up to it think of new activities you could try, things you might never
have done before your loss. Doing new things can help replace that bit of yourself
you feel you have lost.
After the breakup of her long term relationship, Barbara's world was
shattered. 'I got through it by pouring my heart out to friends, and when I'd
been through the worst I started to think of new things socially I could do that
would enable me to move on. I joined a film club and made some new friends - it
enabled me look forward instead of back'.
Step 7: Look after yourself
You might not feel much like eating or looking after yourself when you’re grieving,
but it’s really important to make sure you do. As well as keeping up your strength,
there are foods that are good for mood such as omega 3 found in oily fish, flax
seeds and walnuts. Sleep can be disrupted when you’re grieving, but try not to
let it worry you, just make sure you lie down and get some rest even if you aren't
actually sleeping. Try and keep physically active, exercising if you can, as the
endorphins your brain produces can help you feel better.
Alcohol and non-prescription drugs can sometimes seem like a good way of numbing
the pain. They may give you a temporary boost, but they can actually make things
worse by interfering with the natural process of grief, so 'drowning your sorrows' isn't
going to help.
If it’s difficult to focus at work or college, tell your manager or supervisor what has
happened. It might help to organise short days for a while, or reschedule deadlines.
Go with the flow
Take your time, feel it when it’s right for you. Don’t listen to others who tell you
it’s time to ‘move on’ – or worry yourself that you should be ‘over it by now’. Your
feelings will go up and down – but as long as you are noticing some improvement
as time goes on, you are doing OK. Don’t feel guilty if you find yourself laughing
or feeling happy – that’s OK too.
Step 8: Making sense of things
Perhaps you don’t think of yourself as a religious or spiritual person – though even
people who aren’t religious can sometimes find solace in prayer or being in
a religious place when they suffer a loss. Conversely, you may feel that your faith
or your beliefs have been shattered as a result of what's happened.
If religion and spirituality don’t help, or are not for you, communing with nature,
reading an inspirational book or some poetry, looking at art or listening to music
can all be helpful – if nothing else because they can give us that feeling of
connection and meaning.
When grief feels too much to bear
Over time, your intense feelings and emotions should lessen. If they don’t or
they’re getting worse then you may need outside help. if you constantly feel like
life’s not worth living, feel increasingly disconnected from others or find it impossible
to carry out normal, everyday activities, then it may be time to contact a professional
counsellor who can help you work through your emotions and feelings.
Step 9: Dealing with feelings of anger and guilt
It’s common to feel anger and guilt after suffering a loss. You may feel angry
with yourself for not doing enough, at the person who’s gone for leaving you
or the manager whose job it was to sack you - or blame someone else in some
way. Or you may suffer unbearable feelings of guilt or regret about things you did,
or didn’t do but which are too late to do anything about. In most cases these feelings
will pass, but there are things you can do to help yourself.
Managing guilt and regret is about looking at the situation in a different way.
Your natural response is to blame yourself, but try and find at least four other
possible ways of looking at the situation. For example, you rowed with your
mum the night before she died. Does that cancel out all the loving times you
had together? Was there any way you could have predicted what was going to happen?
Or perhaps you regret being such a conscientious worker, when it seems your only
thanks was redundancy. Would you really feel better about yourself if you hadn't
given it your best? Think of what you achieved while you were there, how it has
increased your skills and how it might help you find another job.
Bereavement - lift the burden of guilt
Guilt is one of the more painful and sometimes unexpected aspects of bereavement.
Perhaps you blame yourself for all the things you should or shouldn't have done
before or after the person's death. Or feel their death is somehow your fault or
even a punishment for being a bad person'. Then there's survivor's guit ('It should
have been me that died') or feeling bad about moving forward with your life.
Although feeling guilty is a natural part of grief, looking at it through fresh eyes can
help you put it in perspective. Imagine looking at it from someone else's point
of view – those of a friend or an objective observer. Or what you might say to a
friend in the same situation. If you feel responsible for the death of someone you
were close to, imagine what that person might say to you now.
Comfort yourself with the thought that someone you cared about, and who cared
about you, would not want to see you suffer all your life or be unhappy. We all have
things we wish we had or hadn't done. Write down your regrets and your need to
be forgiven by that person. You could even write it in a letter to that person. Write
down too what you have learned from the experience and how you will use it to move forward.
Overcoming grief: a self help guide using cognitive behavioural techniques by Sue Morris (Constable & Robinson).
Living with Loss: a book for the widowed by Liz McNeill Taylor