Some Tips on 
Getting Through Grief

 Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D.

The way to get over the grief is through it.  There are no short cuts to it and no bypasses.

Healing required "grief work."  Grief work involves working on your feelings, thoughts and daily actions to heal and recover from grief.

Grief work is an active and a gradual process and goes on for a long time.  It is neither an instant enlightenment nor a permanent recovery from a "persona-addiction."  The withdrawal symptoms are severe, and the lapses are numerous even after the worst is over.  Thus the work can go on for several years after the loss.  My grief work, among other things, is writing these articles on grief.

Here are a few suggestions.  Work on them till you obtain a sense of satisfaction and relief.  Remember, there is a right time to act on each suggestion.  If right now, it's too painful or working on a particular issue throws you in an emotional upheaval, act later as the time may not be ripe for it.

Believe it or not, talking to the people you love and trust will make you feel less lonely.  Grieving has a tendency to make us feel lonely.  Grieving also puts us in a mind frame to not "bother" or disturb others because every one is "busy with their life" or, "I shouldn't be imposing myself on them."  Sometimes we say to ourselves, "They don't really care" or, "They don't have time."

True, some don't have the time or won't take the time.  Some are uncomfortable taking about the death or in facing the person who is mourning a loved one's death.  But let's not judge everybody with a preconceived notion unless we have received such an indication from them.

The fact is that your friends and relatives, too, along with you, have lost the person you love.  Do not avoid meeting or talking to those who are also bereaving and genuinely feeling your feelings.  Share your pain with surviving family and friends.

Grieving really is a social process, but we have made it a private process.  Many tribes and higher primates mourn together.  Many groups are bonded in kinship and naturally grieve together.  Urban living in the last few centuries is responsible for "privatizing" the grieving process.  Our egos come in our way of mourning socially.  Sorrow is looked at as some kind of "weakness" or a "failure" on the part of the individual.  That is a sad notion indeed.

Some survivors avoid all persons, thinking that their feelings will get out of control.  They fear that if they let their true emotion out to a close family member, then they and their close family member will end up being more miserable than before.  Nothing is farther from the truth.

In fact, you will heal faster by sharing your feelings with other survivors who had a close and personal relationships with your loved one.  Do not hide from them or wait for the time when you are a little stronger and a little better.  Hug them.  Cry with them, Keep an open mind about people.  If you sense they are uncomfortable or may not want to talk or listen further, respect it.  Let the conversation drift to the topics of what they are doing in their lives.

You will met a "mix" of people.  Some will seek you out and some will avoid you, not because you are a "plague," but because they are running from some pain in their lives.

Keep a personal journal in which you write your feelings and events of the day.  This is a good way of knowing all the feelings you are feeling.  Writing will clarify what you are really thinking and feeling about yourself, your loved one, the events related to the loss, and about what you are feeling in relation to others.  A writer once said, "How do I know what I am thinking until I can see it on paper?"  So, start a journal.

Do not quarrel with your grief.  You are going to go through a lot of pain.  There is no way of escaping it.  You are going to hurt emotionally and physically.  Do not get upset with yourself over why your mind or body is acting out of control.  Quarreling with your grieving will only weaken you.  Receive these consequences of grief as the price you pay for love.  Be patient with yourself and accept your feelings.  This may strengthen you.

Join a support group.  If there is no support group, start one!  Loss affects us all. Sooner or later, everyone will experience grief.  There are a lot of people who are grieving alone, or still worse, secretly.  Some can't share it even with their families for the fear of upsetting them or sensing that others don't want to be bothered.

In a support group, you don't have the same concerns that you have with your relatives and friends.  There, you can share good as well as bad feelings without having to worry if those will offend any of your relatives or friends.  You will also feel good about supporting other members of your support group.

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Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 


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