How to Keep Going Despite Loss

Grief and lonelinessMy big cat died recently. I knew it was coming. Still, the grief feels so surprising and raw. Loss is like that. Surprising in its ferocity.

I can be rolling right along and reduced to tears or sidetracked by a memory. Loss is like that.

Each time it is personal, painful and complex. But grief is a roller coaster of emotions that must be experienced. It isn’t something to be solved or fix. It is something we endure and grow through while healing takes place.

There is lots of expert advice out there, things to make it easier, ways to cope. But the only thing that I know for sure is that it’s unavoidable. You’ve got to go into it to get through. Even then there is no end. It just changes, at first just enough for you to take a breath.  Be patient with yourself and open to how and when grief shows up. You can make your own rules, there is no wrong way to do it. And, if you experience a roller coaster of emotions? Anger, sadness, desolation, loneliness, peace, relief, guilt, fear – even all in the same day — okay. It’s not comfortable but it’s part of the deal.

To end the grief, I got nothing. But these things might help make some of the moments easier to bear.

Get exercise. Nothing like a good cry while walking the neighborhood. Exercise is a stress release and grief is certainly stressful. It also boosts our energy which is something that often lags when we are grieving. It boosts immune function, helps us sleep and gives us something to do when we are alone in our grief. Get up, get going. I know you don’t feel like it, but it’s a fundamental part of self care and you’ll need everything you’ve got to get through this.

Don’t expect closure. Carole Brody Fleet, author of  Happily Even After… says, this myth that “you should have find closure” only causes you to replay the grief again and again. You may feel sadness and a mix of other emotions for weeks, months years. Forever. Brody Fleet says: “We move forward from these horrible moments in our lives’ we don’t close them.” And that’s okay.

Honor, celebrate, talk about the one you lost. Donate to your loved one’s favorite charity or volunteer to a cause he cared about. Create a spot of rememberance in the garden or house filled with a memento or photos of special times. Light a candle in her honor at dinner or times of celebration. Don’t shy away from sharing memories of the good and bad times you shared and the meanng your loved one brought to your life. The gifts they give us never diminish and it can feel better to reflect on that.

Ask for help. Grief takes a whole lot of energy. It messes with our memories and our attitudes and the routine moments of our lives. Often times we need a little extra help to get through. It’s okay to ask for what you need and often it’s a gift to those friends and family members who are looking for ways to help but don’t know what to do. Ask them to mow the lawn, or bring over a casserole or drop by when the house seems too quiet. And, if you are feeling stuck and unable to manage call a professional counselor for help. Grief is myriad of big, powerful emotions and it’s natural and healthy to ask for help to navigate through them.

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