Grief. We’ve all experienced it in some way. It can hit us particularly hard after the loss of a loved one, but any sort of loss can cause us to go through this natural response, whether physically, spiritually or behaviorally. It is important to recognize the symptoms of grief before they manifest into things like angry outbursts, negative lifestyle choices or uncharacteristic behaviors.
But how, when we’re feeling depression, extreme sadness, a loss of hope and an inability to cope, do we move on? It is important to recognize that grief is the body’s natural response to loss. Allowing and accepting the feelings, rather than fighting emotions that are a part of the natural process of healing is the best way to find hope and happiness again.
At LEAP Foundation DC, we encourage youth to be the best they can be. Part of that is supporting them in all of life’s obstacles and leading by word and example, including demonstrating healthy ways to deal with setbacks and loss.
Here are a few more thoughts about grief:
G – Give back. Finding a few ways to expend your energies in healthy ways is a great way to respond to negative feelings. There is nothing quite like seeing the face of someone who has been helped by your actions and thoughtfulness, whether a friend, loved one or a complete stranger. Become involved in community activities, reach out to another person who might also be experiencing loss and give until your heart is full again.
R – Radiate. Keep in mind that your emotions will radiate from you, offering others a clue about how you’re feeling. Allow others to step in on your behalf. Don’t suppress your need for love and care. As you continue to move forward on your journey with grief, what radiates from you will slowly begin to change and others will begin to respond, as well. Human interaction is pretty amazing!
I – Important. There is never a time that shines a light on that which is important than following the loss of a loved one. Take some time to consider the things for which you are grateful. Life is incredibly precious – you probably understand that now more than ever. Tell your friends and loved ones they’re important to you. Take up some of those volunteer activities that mean something to your personally. Carry on some of the roles that would make your late loved one proud.
E – Experience. Take some time to fully experience your feelings and be kind to yourself in the process. If your grief is caused by the loss of a dear friend or loved one, give yourself permission to cry and question life’s uncertainties. But then, as isolation turns to anger, anger turns to bargaining, bargaining turns to depression and depression turns to acceptance, vow to truly experience life and its amazing gifts. Soon, you’ll have more vibrancy and passion than ever before.
F – Friendship. Don’t underestimate the power of a good friend. They’re intuitive, accepting, reliable and trustworthy. If grief has overcome you, don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend who has always brought you joy. Allow that person to bring you the much-needed comfort that you need now more than ever. Oftentimes, when a friend experiences a great loss, we can find ourselves experiencing our own loss – a loss of words. We don’t know what to say, so we don’t say anything at all. Reach out someone experiencing grief. If words are not available, a simple embrace can go a long way.