Coping Skills. #19. Grieving Honestly

Coping Skill. 19: Grieving Honestly

You don’t go around grieving all the time, but the grief is still there and always will be.
Nigella Lawson

When one thinks of coping skills, positive activities to raise one’s mood are the thought of first.  Walks, reading, baths, coloring – all of these things make you feel better.

However, sometimes a coping skill seems less happy.  When you are experiencing difficulties, putting on a happy face and trying a feel-good activity might not help.  Instead you may need to identify how you are feeling and allow yourself to sit with that emotion in a safe way.

Thus, I am going to discuss the coping skill of allowing grief.  This might sound crazy.  After all, our culture tells us to not be sad.  If you are depressed, something is wrong with you.  Take a pill, force a smile on your face, and stop moping around!  By mourning, you are wasting time and energy that could be better spent doing something useful.

This philosophy has many flaws.  Yes, one can grieve excessively to the point where they refuse to move on with their life.  If that is the case, they probably experienced something horrific or devastating and need help to recover.  For many people, however, grieving is a foreign concept.  We do not allow ourselves to do so out of past punishments, belief that it is a sign of weakness, or the pressure to be happy.  Instead we stuff our emotions down and pretend everything is perfect.

The enormous amount of pressure is unneeded and often hurts us greatly.  Instead, we can allow grief to be a coping skill.  Just allow yourself to cry.  This does not need to be in public.  Find a safe corner to mourn in for as long as you need.  If you are at work or some other place where you need to be present, take short breaks to cry or write down your sorrows.  These escapes can be only a few minutes in random places such as a closet, the bathroom, in an unused room, etc.  All that is needed is a safe place and a few minutes of solitude.

If you wish to include someone else, that can also be helpful.  Reach out to family, co-workers, or friends.  You might be surprised how readily someone will let you cry on their shoulder.  However, if you feel better alone, do not force yourself to let someone else in at this time.  Listen to yourself and how you need to grieve.  Everyone mourns differently, so try to refrain from judging your way of coping or trying to mimic something that feels too uncomfortable.

Recently, I experienced a great loss.  My dietitian of several years is leaving the clinic that I attend.  As I went through classes on Wednesday, tears slid down my cheeks as I ducked my head from classmates.  Many times I wondered if I could get through the day.  Everything seemed pointless and black.  Instead of pasting a smile on my face every minute, I sobbed between each class.  Also, I emailed and called my mother several times.  By the end of the day, my sorrow remained but at least I had begun to address it.

Grieving is not a pleasant coping skill.  However, it is an important one to learn if you want to recover from pain and disappointment.  Remember that you can grieve for huge heartaches like the death of a loved one or something that seems small like an unkind comment.  Just because it appears trivial to others does not mean that it did not hurt you deeply.  Next time you find yourself fighting sorrow, I encourage you to let yourself feel the emotion in a safe but honest way.  Perhaps you will find that it helps you in the long run.

Related Posts:

Grieving with Hope on Umbilical

How to Deal with Heartbreak, Part 1 on Kali Whipple

Blessed are They That Mourn (Matthew 5:4) on Drafsco

Blogging Exercises: Blogging Loss and Grief on Lorelle on WordPress

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6 thoughts on “Coping Skills. #19. Grieving Honestly

  1. ashokbhatia says:

    Well said.

    Crying in a corner helps, as does a quiet bout of mediattion where you focus on your inner thoughts, anlyze why you are feeling the way you do, and gradually steel yourself to pull out of the quaigmaire. More often than not, you end up seeing the sunny part of life!

  2. April says:

    Very beautifully said. When most think of grief, they think of the death of a loved one. Grief symptoms can come on from any sort of change, even if it is a positive change like a new job. Stuffing it down is very harmful–this I know from experience.

  3. THANK YOU so much for this blog post Anna. I really needed to read these word today. Since you have had insight on the Whole story of our Move from Oregon to Arizona, and living with my hubby’s WACKED OUT Sisters & Brothers in this house, my husband Tom & I have cried Together more these past 3 months, than the whole 24 years we have been Married! We cried of having to give our 2 Cats away to good homes before we left OR, I have cried myself to sleep many nights over the abusive way we have been treated here in this house, which in turn has had my Bipolar moods, and depression ALL over the place.

    Good news is, we got approved yesterday for our own New Beautiful Apt here!! Light at the end of the tunnel. I have used every Tool, Skill, I have in my Recovery, and Mental Health tool box to get me through these last 3 months. In a few more days, I’ll have my Sanity, my Peace & Serenity back!! GUESS WHAT? The lord does ANSWER PRAYERS & Performs MIRACLES! God Bless, Author, Catherine Lyon xxoo :-)

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