August 23, 2023

Processing Grief

By Josh Wei
Mental Health & Wellbeing

For most of my upbringing, I remember being told to avoid feeling negative and “just get over it.” This left me unsure of what to do in moments of sadness, leading to frustration and shame. It wasn’t until much later that I realized I didn’t know how to grieve and healthily handle these emotions. I found myself in a difficult position: unwilling to continue bottling things up yet unsure how to bring about change. As I came around to admit that I was grieving, one question kept running through my mind: “Now what?”

What is Grief?

Grief is a natural and normal response to loss; allowing ourselves to experience and process it is important for our healing. It is okay for grief to be intense and overwhelming. I highly recommend checking out a blog post by Treshana Lewis, which outlines the various types of grief.

What should I do?

When considering the general public’s attitude towards grief, you will probably find that there is an inclination to minimize the experience as much as possible. It may seem easier, but suppressing these emotions can prolong the grief and manifest anxiety, depression, or physical symptoms. Processing grief can be complex and unique for each individual, but I believe different approaches to moving through challenging seasons is worth exploring. I’ve listed a few ways to begin one’s healing journey.

1. Compassion

During the grieving process, it is essential to be compassionate towards ourselves. This means treating ourselves with kindness, patience, and understanding. It requires acknowledging the fact that healing takes time.

Instead of trying to reason out of grief or looking down on ourselves for feeling a certain way, being compassionate also includes approaching our experiences with curiosity. Let’s slow down and ask ourselves what we’re feeling and why that may be. We may not always know exactly why, but that’s okay too! We are learning that not knowing how we feel doesn’t have to be negative.

When we practice self-compassion, we teach our minds that we are safe, no matter the emotional experience. Self-compassion also involves engaging in activities that nurture the mind and body. By practicing self-compassion, we can navigate the complex emotions of grief with gentleness and allow ourselves to heal at our own pace.

2. Self-expression

Self-expression can be a helpful tool when processing grief. When we experience loss, we often find ourselves overwhelmed with a storm of emotions, thoughts, and memories. Engaging in creative outlets such as journaling, art, or movement can provide a safe and therapeutic space to express our grief.

Through self-expression, we can give a voice to our pain and confusion, allowing them to be seen and acknowledged. It offers a way to externalize and structure the internal experience and can create a sense of relief. For example, journaling can allow us to express ourselves without fear of judgment. By putting our thoughts on paper, we are free to say however much or little we want in order to feel understood.

Over time, we can revisit past entries, observe our progress, and gain insight into our journey. We ultimately learn more about ourselves by letting our thoughts flow instead of suppressing them.

3. Connection

Having support and understanding of others as we process grief can also be incredibly helpful. Connecting with family, friends, or a therapist allows us to share our grief and feel understood. Even if the people around us can’t entirely relate to our experience, being in the presence of compassionate and empathetic loved ones can provide comfort and reassurance.

We are reminded that we aren’t alone and aren’t left to figure things out on our own. Communities also create a space to honor and reminisce the memory of loved ones. Just because grief can feel ugly doesn’t mean our friends and family don’t want to hear about it. Going through grief together can strengthen relationships as we allow others to support and care for us in times of need.

Remember, you are on a journey! It may take time to find clarity and healing but know that this is entirely normal. We can’t control how we feel about difficult moments, but we can develop ways to care for ourselves in grief.

If you are looking for support through grief or any challenging season, please connect with us to set up an appointment!

Written By

Josh Wei

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