grief, loss, isolation, sadness, life skills, mental health, professional help, yoga, meditation

The death of a loved one, relationship breakdown or loss of employment or finances? If you or a loved one is experiencing grief and loss, we have some survival tips to help you through it.

Although grief is a universal experience, we simply aren’t taught how to deal with. It is powerful, personal emotion which can make others feel uncomfortable about what to do or say. Instead of providing support, people often avoid individuals experiencing grief. Mourners therefore feel isolated and very alone in their suffering, even if they share the loss with others.

If this sounds like you or someone close to you, it is important to know that grieving is a very natural process. Everyone will experience it at one time or another and each person will do it differently. Some will grieve for a short time and other will grieve much longer. Some will cry and display their grief while others with hold it within. There is no right or wrong way as long as you let yourself experience it and ride though the pain.

Sometimes the significant loss we experience leaves an empty feeling within us and we crave to fill it. Initially drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex or other addictive behaviours will fill the void and this is why so many people turn to addictive behaviours at the onset of grief. Unfortunately, these behaviours only mask the pain  and when the behaviour is removed, the grief will rise to the surface.

Avoiding these types of behaviours and grieving in a positive way will not only get you through the intense feelings at the onset, but also allow you to move on as time passes. The following tips will help you grieve in a more positive way:

  • Understand what you are feeling is completely natural. It is ok to be sad and still be able to laugh.
  • Take each day as it comes and remember that as each day passed; the pain will eventually ease.
  • Be kind to yourself and don’t eat yourself up over the past. Instead focus on the present and the future.
  • Talk to friends and family about your loss. Although they may not have experienced grief themselves, they can be your best support so don’t be afraid to ask them for help.
  • Look after your physical health; sleep, eat health, drink plenty of water and avoid excessive alcohol or sleeping medication. Looking after your physical health will ultimately help maintain your mental health.
  • Keeping busy is great but don’t do so to avoid your feelings.
  • Yoga, meditation, gardening, writing or things that you usually do to relax will help you stay mentally strong.
  • Avoid major decisions like moving or selling your home. As time passes you will have a better perspective.
  • If you are experiencing isolation, joining a support group will give you access to others experiencing similar emotions and the opportunity to share your experience.

If your grief is prolonged or if you are having trouble coping, you may need to talk to a professional. The following contacts are an excellent place to start:

Lifeline 24-hour counselling 13 11 14

Kids helpline 1800 55 1800

By Kim Chartres