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Tips For Coping With Grief

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People report a variety of tips for coping with grief. Following is a brief list.  Consider trying what seems likely to work for you. If your first attempts don't work, keep trying. It's worth changing activities until you learn the activities that help and those that don't. 

  • Think about the way you have successfully coped with life's stresses. Apply that technique to this situation.
  • Set small goals. It makes them manageable. Otherwise, the situation can be so overwhelming that it seems insurmountable.
  • Asking for help can be difficult, so try and ask it from somebody you feel comfortable with.
  • Allow yourself to feel whatever comes up.
  • Talk about the illness and the feelings it evokes. 
    • Talking helps making some sense out of the situation and resolves some of the pain. Experts recommend talking with friends and family.
    • Keep in mind that feelings aren't right or wrong, good or bad - they just are. Don't let other people tell you how to feel. What is important is to allow ourselves to experience what we feel.
  • Take a break from people who bring you down. Instead, surround yourself with positive people who care about you.
  • Many people benefit from writing a diary. Putting feeling on paper helps because it forces you to focus. The process also externalizes your feelings and thus helps with coping with them. (To learn how to keep a diary, click here.) 
  • Make it known when you are tired or need to be alone. It helps those around you to know what you need when you need it rather than guess and give you advice that will irritate you. Keep in mind that as much as you may want to be alone when not feeling well, avoiding people is detrimental. Isolation can cause depression and provoke fear. Try your best not to avoid people.
  • Pace yourself. Don't try to do too much. Over activity may cause fatigue and frustration. Acknowledge the fact that things take longer now.
  • People have also found the following helpful:
  • If you're feeling angry or frustrated, exercise can be a healthy way to use up "extra energy." Exercise can be as simple as going for a walk or climbing stairs. To learn how to bring exercise into your life on a daily basis, click here.
  • Television, particularly comedy or other non-news channels. Television news with all the sensationalist negative stories might be upsetting and over stimulating, so try and watch in moderation.
  • Don't reach for a drug or alcohol to eliminate your pain.
  • Cry. Crying does not equal giving up or lacking hope.
    • Limit the amount of time you permit yourself to cry. 
    • Choose who to cry with.
  • Try Deborah Derman, PH.D's adult coloring book for getting through difficult times: Colors of Loss and Healing.
  • Keep in mind that grief will ease over time. Don't try to rush the time. Each situation is different. We all heal differently.
  • If the feelings continue after a few months, studies show that support groups can help. If you don't want to talk in public, there are groups that meet on the telephone. There are also on-line groups in which one can read about other people's experiences and write your own.
  • If the feelings become too intense, or result in your being unable to function, seek professional help.

Researched and Written by: Noa Guy, a volunteer
New York, New York

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