How to cope with grief

If you have lost someone, here are some ideas for beginning to cope with the grieving process.

What exactly is grief?

Grief is a natural response to loss. Often this means the death of someone close to you. But grief can also follow losing a pet, having a miscarriage, going through divorce or losing a friendship. It’s a very personal thing. There’s no right or wrong way to grieve, and no set length of time that it will last. Be patient with yourself and work through the process naturally.

Five ideas that may help with the grieving process

Grieving for a loved one can be one of the most difficult experiences we go through in life. There is no quick fix, and nothing can make it disappear immediately.

There are a few things that you can do, which may help you through this time:

1. Don't keep your feelings bottled up

It’s proven by the experts that expressing your emotions can help reduce the intensity of your feelings. You could talk to someone - or if you don’t feel comfortable doing this, write it down in a journal.

2. Find a support group you can join

Meeting people who are going through a similar experience can help and offer comfort. You might feel less like you’re going through it alone with others to share your feelings with.

3. Explore a new hobby or interest

Spending time on a new hobby could be a distraction as well as giving you something to look forward to. Creative pastimes can provide a sense of achievement, while sport and physical activities are a great way to release endorphins in your brain – the chemicals that can make you feel more positive.

4. See your friends

When you’re grieving, you may well feel like you want to be on your own. That is fine, but can also isolate you. Try to maintain connections with friends and take part in occasional social events – surrounding yourself with familiar, friendly faces can be very comforting.

5. Take care of yourself

Eating regularly, and sleeping when you can, is really important. If you neglect your own physical health, your grief will be harder to deal with.

Preparing for anniversaries

The anniversary of the death of your loved one, their birthday or a family event can be particularly difficult for those left behind. These occasions can trigger feelings of grief, even years later. It may help you to book that day off work, or talk to the people who will share this day with you beforehand. You could plan something special to commemorate your loved one together.

When grief doesn’t go away

While the sadness of losing someone never goes completely, it shouldn’t take over your life indefinitely. If you find that you are unable to resume your life, it may be that you are suffering with low mood due to bereavement, which can become depression. Grief and depression share many symptoms, but if you’re experiencing constant feeling of despair it could be a good idea to speak to your GP.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

For more guidance on coping with grief and bereavement, the mental health charity Mind have a list of useful contacts that can offer support.

Benenden Health members can call the Mental Health Helpline if they find themselves affected by bereavement and are struggling with grief. The helpline can offer 24-hour support from a qualified therapist during this difficult time.