It’s important to remember we are not the only ones who have lived through and survived such a loss. We have many loss survivors who have gone before us and they have blazed a trail of survivorship and healing for us. So, with that in mind, we take a look at some ways to get and stay grounded and centered during grief:
1. Don’t isolate. Isolating magnifies our sense of pain. This does not mean putting yourself with anybody you can find. A sense of discernment is required, which can be challenging. We need to put ourselves in the presence of people who care and understand, and who aren’t going to try to rewrite history for us or tell us how we are supposed to be feeling.
2. Ask for help. While it sometimes isn’t easy, it is most certainly much harder to get through grief and loss alone. Asking for help, and getting it, is perhaps the strongest indicator that a person will be okay. Grief support groups, therapist who specializes in grief and loss, and private, small therapy groups can be a huge benefit.
3. Do only what you can do. Maybe you don’t want to go to that office Christmas party. Don’t! You are the best judge of how much you can handle. If the holidays are overwhelming you, create your own celebration at home with a close friend. During overwhelming times, less is more. Make sure to get lots of rest and sleep, eat healthy food and give yourself lots of time-outs!
4. Watch out for the mood altering substances. After a loss, it can be very tempting to overdo it with alcohol, cigarettes, food, work, shopping — any compulsive activity prevents you from feeling your feelings. The addictions are merely symptoms for what’s going on underneath: not wanting to feel the pain of the loss. This is where a therapist becomes crucial in guiding you through your grief.
5. Steer clear of the critical people. Believe it or not, there will be some people out there who will tell you to “just get over it” and other insensitive comments intended to help you see that your loved one’s death was merciful, or that it is good that they are no longer in pain, etc. Please remember these people are ignorant, uneducated and foolish. It is not your job during this tender time to reform them. Avoid them.
Above all, be good to yourself. And remember, grief is a lifelong journey with many ups and downs. Hopefully with time and support will come healing. Give yourself room to feel whatever you’re feeling and know that there is no “normal” way to grieve – every single situation is different. It’s time to start cutting yourself a break and learning to love yourself. Right now!
Catherine Greenleaf is a suicide loss survivor, and author of the highly acclaimed book, Healing The Hurt Spirit: Daily Affirmations For People Who Have Lost a Loved One to Suicide. She is a spiritual counselor and a member of the Association for Death Education and Counseling. She travels nationwide to speak to suicide loss survivors about how to persevere after suicide loss. You can read more of her work on her blog, or follow her on twitter.