If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we never know what tomorrow can bring. This year has shown us that no matter how good our life gets, the reality is that nothing is promised to us. We could be rejoicing over career advancement, only to lose a stream of income to an economic downturn. We could celebrate an important milestone one day and contend with a deadly pandemic on the next.
The world is undergoing a collective trauma, and we need to find ways to navigate these new circumstances unscathed. We need to heal, but the way to do that is by properly mourning everything we lost along the way.
Studies show that mourning and grief are an essential part of the healing process. If we want to heal, then we must first recognize that there was a wound in the first place. If we are to move on from our pain, we need to learn how to honor our sorrow and permit ourselves to mourn. We can’t bypass this step; it’s a necessary part of rebuilding after a loss. The only way out is through.
How to grieve well
Here are some pointers for grieving healthily and productively.
- Accept and acknowledge the finality of the loss. Whether it’s a person, a pet, or a job, if you know there’s no way to bring them back, then we need to accept that we’re going to continue the journey of our lives without them.
- Say goodbye to the loss in tangible ways; ritualize it if you must. There’s a reason why we use funeral arrangements for people who have passed on—it’s a way to honor their memory, yes, but it’s also cathartic and healing for the loved ones who have been left behind.
- Take it one day at a time. Don’t give your mourning period a deadline. Take as long as you need, but don’t forget to communicate this at work, too.
- Don’t force yourself to be as productive as you were before the loss happened. Expect that your level of efficiency will decrease during this time.
- Avoid making major life decisions as you grieve. Your emotions are understandably high when you’re mourning, and you might not have the capacity to make decisions from a place of objectivity.
- Make a habit of talking about your grief with someone you trust. Studies show that being able to talk about the loss helps facilitate the grieving process.
- Be intentional about your health. It’s hard to sleep and eat well when you’re mourning, but you need to be proactive in making sure you’re able to do both. Consult with your primary healthcare giver to know if they can provide you with organic sleeping aids or a nutrition plan.
- Don’t neglect exercise during this time. It will not only benefit your body; it can also improve your mental health and help get your mind off things. It can prove to be a healthy distraction.
- Write down your thoughts and feelings. Journaling is a healthy way for you to let out your emotions.
- Allow yourself to laugh and have good times. Let yourself be surrounded by family, friends, and loved ones who make you feel good. Grieving doesn’t mean we need to let go of happiness altogether; the beauty of mourning is that it can also alternate with joy.
- Consider speaking to a grief counselor. If you find that nothing helps, talking with a professional may be the best idea.
- Practice self-care rituals like taking warm baths or going for a massage. Don’t deprive yourself of comfort and relaxation.
- Grieve all the ways you were hurt by people. Name their offenses one by one, even if you don’t get to tell them. And if there are people you need to forgive, decide to do so. Take note that forgiveness does not entail the restoration of trust or the relationship—it simply means you are letting go of bitterness, anger, and the need for vengeance.
- Find ways to help those in need or those who have experienced the same loss as you. Connecting with others who know exactly how you feel can be cathartic and healing.
- Show yourself some compassion. The last thing you need to do is be hard on yourself. Grieving feels hard because it is hard.
Hope Against Hope
No matter how hard it is, remember that grief does not have the final word. It is just a necessary step towards healing and wholeness. There will come a time when the loss will no longer sting, and you can look around you and be grateful for everything you still have left—your family, life’s blessings, and your life. It can only get better from here.