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Could you be grieving?

January 25, 2022 | Mental Health | Healthy You

young woman lying on couch

Acknowledging and letting yourself grieve can help you overcome loss of all kinds.

Across the globe people are grieving every kind of loss imaginable.

Most tragically, we grieve those who have died due to COVID-19 or other health conditions that might have been treated, if not for the pandemic.

Many are also deeply hurting for the missed opportunity to say a final good-bye to someone in hospice care.

Extremely difficult times

These losses are extremely difficult, even in the best of times. If someone you love has died in recent months, give yourself grace and time to absorb the shock of this change and find strength to go on. This can take months or even years. Learn more about grief and grieving for a loved one.

Those who haven’t lost a loved one might think they have no right to grieve.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Loss comes in many forms. Millions have lost jobs, businesses and the other major aspects that shape daily lives and lifelong goals.

Everyone is experiencing loss

And everyone—to one degree or another—is experiencing some form of loss or is missing things that make life feel complete.

From special rites of passage such as junior proms and graduations to major life events such as weddings and new babies to beloved annual traditions, birthday celebrations and long-anticipated vacations, let alone the everyday activities we took for granted like play dates, sleepovers and casually popping into a grocery store.

Additionally, many of us are feeling grief about the state of our society; noticing the continued work we have to do around diversity and inclusion.

None of these things is as permanent as a death, but when taken all together, the collective losses take a heavy toll mentally and emotionally. It’s not just one disappointment, but a whole host of things that weigh us down.

According to mental health experts, feelings of loss are personal and each person needs to find ways to cope with loss throughout life.

It’s healthy to recognize when you’re grieving.

Whatever loss you’ve experienced, your feelings are valid and worth exploring. In fact, living with unresolved grief can have lasting effects on your health.

And if you’re a parent, not only do you feel your own losses, but you’re also helping your child or teen deal with their feelings as well. And their losses in many respects are yours.

Give yourself space

Here are some steps to give yourself — and others — space and permission to acknowledge our losses – whether during the pandemic or even before.

Identify your feelings.

  • Writing can help you sort out what you’re feeling and why. Just write, don’t edit. This is just for you.
  • Drawing is another way get your feelings out in the open. Again, don’t worry about what it looks like.
  • Labeling your feelings can help you see a mixture of emotions from sadness or anger to maybe even relief.

Accept your feelings.

  • Express your emotions. Keeping them bottled up won’t make them go away.
  • Talk to a trusted friend. Let your friend know you need a listening ear.
  • Be kind and gentle with yourself. You’re already hurting. Have compassion on yourself.

Explore solutions that match your situation.

Find ways to alleviate the pain you’re feeling, depending on the type and intensity of the loss.

  • Seek counseling. Set up a time to talk with a specialist or a chaplain or other clergy member.
  • Consider a support group. You might find comfort in knowing others who are going through an experience similar to yours.
  • Ask for help. Others are eager to support you, especially with things that could feel overwhelming right now.
  • Identify next steps. If you lost a job, ask yourself about your next move. If you’re sad about a missed life milestone, think how you want to mark the occasion in a new way, now or in the future.
  • Refocus your attention. Go for a walk in the woods. Dig weeds in the garden. Do something to take your mind off things for a while, but don’t use activities to avoid dealing with your feelings. Find a balance.
  • Choose healthy coping habits. It’s tempting to eat our emotions or overindulge in things that bring short-term comfort. In the long run, you’ll feel better if you eat a plant-based diet, exercise daily, stick to a good sleep routine and do other activities that promote overall good health.