Trying to make your grief go away by distracting yourself with other things; putting all of your hurt feelings onto someone else; getting angry and frustrated and making someone else bad or wrong because you think it might make you feel better are all not good ways to deal with grief. So what are better ways?
The first thing to do is to be kind to yourself and one of the most important ways to do that is to realize that not everyone grieves the same way or even about the same things. Some people cry and cannot stop; some people don’t ever cry, but shut themselves in their rooms and only come out once in a while. Some people are just down and depressed; some people start working, frantically, as though trying to make up for all the things they might have forgotten or neglected when the person, animal, place or thing they loved is gone.
Being kind to yourself also means to give yourself gifts. Not distraction, gifts: a half an hour of silence in the morning, even if it means that you wake up half an hour earlier than everyone else in your family. Or it can mean going out and hanging around with some good and kind friends, even though you really don’t feel like it. You can give yourself the gift of telling yourself that you still care about yourself, really.
Being kind to yourself when you are grieving can mean finding someone special to talk to; a teacher, counselor, a trusted relative or a trusted friend. Sometimes it’s so hard to talk about your feelings because you hardly know what they are, but it’s worth it if you persist. Sometimes you might feel silly and stupid: you’ve just lost someone in your life that you loved, perhaps, and you seem to be going along fine until you hear someone say something or some music, and you feel empty and lonely and lost all at once.
That is when you really need to be kind to yourself, because grief is like a huge ocean wave sometimes: it can knock you over flat. You need to be strong for yourself!
When you are sad and feeling like you lost something, way too often you try to make yourself feel better. This is not wrong: grief and loss hurt a lot. But it can become difficult when you do things to deal with your grief that take you out of yourself too much or when you try and bury the grief. When you do things that try to tell your grief that it isn’t real or that you have to pretend you’re not hurting, this doesn’t mean the grief goes away: the grief is still there. If you haven’t felt the grief all the way through so that you can learn about what and why you are grieving, there will always be some left. The trouble is that leftover grief turns into other things: you are angry all the time or nothing seems to matter, ever. When you have leftover grief you feel sad most of the time and you get frustrated with things a lot.
There are other ways that your leftover grief acts peculiar: it can make you want to go away somehow. This means you might pretend to be someone else so that you’re not the person who lost something precious. This can mean that you want to make your grief disappear, and that can be dangerous. If you try and distract yourself by playing computer games, messing around with people because you’re hurting and you want to make them hurt so you can feel good and strong, if you do what other people do and take something chemical that’s supposed to “make you feel better,” you are not being honest to yourself or your grief.
And if you are not honest with yourself: if you don’t let yourself understand that grief is hard but that there is usually something better than grief in the end when you’ve gone through it all, or if you don’t get help from some wise person or people so you can heal your grief, you get stuck, sometimes forever, not knowing what to do or who you are.
Grief is hard to see, hard to deal with, hard to bear and hard to manage, yet it would be a very wise thing to learn from grief: grief can teach you so much! When you feel sad and lost because you are grieving, you can learn about how deep your feelings are. You can learn how much the little things, the everyday things, really matter. You can learn again how you react when you are sad: do you get angry and strike out or do you want to hide and be left alone until you figure out to feel better? If you have been paying attention all along and know what loss and grief affects you then you can tell those close to you how you feel and what you need ahead of time or at the time.
This will help everyone, including you: grieving is very personal in the way it matters. Sometimes when you think about grief, whether it is an old grief that you felt years ago, or remembering some great story about how someone reacted to a loved-one’s death or loss, or even if you are afraid of losing someone now, sometimes when you think about grief a lot you can get used to the idea and get stronger.
Some people might think that this is morbid; other people might think so much about grief that they hardly think of anything else. However, if all you do is to recognize that grief is powerful because it matters so much, then you can be ready when things take a bad turn.
Grief recognizes when something is lost but you have to be careful not to run away from grief’s pain to the point that you stop feeling anymore. You also have to keep from trying to look everywhere but where the pain is, because you say “Everything’s fine,” when you know it isn’t, then you have lost another part of yourself: Your honesty.