EXPERIENCING grief is a normal reaction to loss. It is the sorrow that you feel when someone or something you care about is no longer with you. The pain caused by loss is often overpowering. You may feel a range of intense emotions, such as shock, anger, disbelief, guilt and overwhelming sadness.

Reaction to grief varies from person to person. It can be influenced by numerous elements, such as life experiences, coping style, personality, religious beliefs and the profoundness of the loss.

These tips may help in dealing with loss:

-> Allow yourself to feel the pain and other emotions connected with it. Do not allow others to dictate how you should feel.

-> Have patience and wait for the process to unfold. Do not put pressure on yourself with unrealistic expectations. Acknowledge the need to cope with your pain and emotions, and to heal in your own time.

-> Refrain from evaluating your feelings or comparing yourself with others. Do not let anyone decide how you should grieve or when it is time to move on.

-> Accept how you feel, even if it is uncomfortable. Allow yourself to shed tears. Both are necessary for the healing process.

-> Keep your usual routine. During the first year of grieving, it is not advised to make any radical changes in life (ie. moving, changing jobs, changing major relationships). This will allow you to hold on to your roots while still giving you a sense of security.

-> Look after yourself. Eat a balanced diet and stay active. Exercise is an effective way to reduce stress. Permit yourself to indulge in physical pleasures that help you relax, such as hot baths, naps and favourite dishes.

-> Do not be too hard on yourself for the things you have said or done, or have not said or done. In order to heal, it is important to extend compassion and be forgiving on yourself and others.

-> Take a break from grieving. Although you must cope with it, you do not need to dwell on your grief constantly. Look for distractions, such as going to the movies, dining out or attending a sports event, reading a good book, listening to music or getting a massage.

-> Be prepared for holidays, birthdays and anniversaries as intense emotions may resurface. Figure out if you would like to retain certain traditions or come up with new ones. Think ahead about how and whom you want to spend your time with. Find a way to pay tribute to your lost loved one.

-> Look into joining a grief support group. Outside help can be encouraging, guiding and comforting. Aside from offering advice and useful information, its support can also help reduce feelings of isolation. If there is no group nearby, online groups can be useful.

-> When you feel prepared, indulge in a creative pursuit. Ways to cope with grief may include writing a letter to the deceased, expressing your thoughts and feelings. Begin journaling. Create a scrapbook. Create artworks. Start a garden. Participate in a cause or activity that the deceased cared about.

-> Even though opening up to others can lighten the weight of grief, you do not have to talk about your loss every time you socialise with friends and family. You can feel comforted just by being surrounded by people who love and care for you. Do not shut yourself off. That is the key. Understand that a lot of people feel uncomfortable consoling someone who is grieving. For many, grief can be an overwhelming and fearful emotion, especially if they have never gone through a similar loss. They may not be sure of the best way to comfort you, which could lead them to say or do the wrong things. Nonetheless, do not use it as an excuse to hide away from social interaction. When someone close to you reaches out, it is because they care about you.

-> Let your faith bring you solace. If you are spiritual, find comfort in the mourning ceremonies of your religious tradition. Participating in spiritual activities that you find meaningful can be helpful.

-> Utilising social media can be beneficial in informing others of your loss and seeking support. Nevertheless, this can also draw trolls who post offensive, insensitive or hurtful comments on the internet. To protect yourself from further pain, you may want to limit your social media activities to private groups instead of leaving public posts that can be commented on by anyone.

-> Seek counselling. If the grief you feel is overwhelming, seek the help of a mental health professional. With the guidance of a qualified therapist, you can process intense emotions, and hopefully, be able to surmount roadblocks and go through the process of healing from a loss.

Dr Praveena Rajendra, Certified Mental Health and Awareness Practitioner specialised in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com

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