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- Grief is a normal and healthy reaction that occurs when you lose someone or something important. Although it is possible to delay or postpone grieving, it is not possible to avoid grieving altogether.
- Grief will subside over time. However, the grieving process does not happen in a step-by-step or orderly fashion. Give yourself all the time you need to identify, accept, and express your emotions.
- Your feelings are unique. Each person handles emotions and feelings differently. Find the way to deal with your emotions that fits you.
- Support is important during the grieving process. Support comes in many forms, such as from friends and family, by participating in activities you enjoy, or through exercises to help you express your feelings, such as writing letters or keeping a journal.
How can I manage my grief?
Identify your feelings
Sometimes after a loss, it is hard to figure out exactly what you are feeling. You may have several feelings at the same time or conflicting feelings, such as sadness and relief. Writing is a good way to identify what you are feeling. Writing about what you feel can:
- Stimulate thinking and help you organize and analyze your thoughts.
- Deepen your understanding of a situation and may help you get in touch with feelings you had not recognized before.
- Prompt you to reflect on what is happening to you. This can help you put things into perspective and come to an understanding of how the changes affect your life.
When you are ready:
- Set aside time to write.
- Choose a private, comfortable place to do your writing.
- Choose a method of writing. You may choose to write a letter to your loved one, for example, or a poem or story.
- Don't worry about how well you write. Write about everyday occurrences or conversations you have had.
- Write what you feel. Don't screen your thoughts; give yourself permission to write whatever comes to mind. Strong feelings (such as fear, anger, or frustration) may arise. Write about simple pleasures and joys you have experienced, too. If you have concerns about your strong feelings, talk with a trusted friend, member of the clergy, or mental health professional.
Accept your feelings
- Many people find it helpful to talk to other people. Try to resist the urge to be quiet around or avoid people. If you are having trouble talking about your feelings with family members and friends, consider joining a bereavement support group.
- Express your emotions. You may feel that this is a sign of weakness, or that you won't be able to control yourself if you show your emotions. None of these is true. However, if you are afraid that you might harm yourself or someone else if you express an emotion, talk with someone you trust, your health professional, or a mental health professional about your concerns.
- Be patient and kind to yourself. Your feelings may be unpredictable and uncomfortable. Remind yourself that your uncomfortable feelings are expected and will fade as time goes on.
Handling difficult feelings
Each person handles emotion differently. Here are some ideas about how to deal with some of the most common feelings during the grieving process:
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Donald Sproule, MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Sidney Zisook, MD - Psychiatry
Jean S. Kutner, MD, MSPH - Geriatric Medicine, Palliative Medicine
Current as ofOctober 6, 2017
Current as of: October 6, 2017
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Donald Sproule, MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Sidney Zisook, MD - Psychiatry & Jean S. Kutner, MD, MSPH - Geriatric Medicine, Palliative Medicine