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Mind & Mood

Getting through grief

November 14, 2016

At a time of loss, it's important to focus on maintaining your health and getting the support you need.

Image: natalie_broad/iStock

Losing a family member, a close friend, or even a beloved pet can be devastating. All the small details of daily life—getting out of bed, making meals, going to appointments, taking care of children, handling responsibilities at work—may seem monumentally hard or inconsequential. Yet, even as you grieve, you've probably been reminded that life must go on. But working through the emotional pain can be difficult, particularly during the holidays, when you may feel you are supposed to be celebrating.

The normal process of grieving

Help with coping

If you're grieving, it may help to do the following:

Take care of yourself. This means eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep. It also means asking yourself, "What would help me most today?" and taking care of the need, be it having a good cry, talking to a friend, or going to the movies.

Let people know what helps. Often, people aren't sure how to act around you when you are grieving. They will be relieved if you tell them how they can help you, whether you want someone to pitch in with the laundry, sit quietly by, or share stories about your loved one. It's also fine to let people know if you'd like to be left alone.

Accept mixed feelings. It is entirely normal to have mixed emotions about the loss and about your loved one. It helps to express these so that other people understand what you are going through. Chances are, they've been there themselves.

Find others who understand. People who have also lost a loved one are likely to be more understanding. Many hospitals, religious organizations, and community groups have support groups for mourners, in which participants offer comfort and share coping strategies. When friends and family can't help in these ways, support groups often can.

Seek professional help. Grief and depression are hard to tell apart. The symptoms are similar, and so are the therapies. If you are finding yourself overwhelmed by grief, you may want to seek help from a professional. Psychiatrists, psychologists, and spiritual leaders are trained to help people through the grieving process. "We all want to help you to feel better and move through the world more easily," Dr. Miller says.




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