6 Healthy Coping Skills To Help You Process Your Grief
“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” – Vicki Harrison
Loss, just like grief, is a unique experience. What you experience isn’t the same as what other experiences. I’ve heard many stories where people have been expected to grieve in a certain way, but let me tell you, there’s no right or wrong way to mourn.
That’s what grief is, really. It’s a five-stage process that can come in many forms and never in the same order. Sometimes, it can be an absence of emotions while other times, it can make you feel overwhelmed with sadness. However, your experience of grief is uniquely yours and as equal and valid as any other form of grief.
What’s important to keep in mind, however, is the resources you have or the way you cope with grief. Your coping skills. Without healthy coping strategies, your grief can turn unbearable and eventually lead to severe consequences such as depression.
Below, I’ve compiled 6 healthy coping skills for grief that you can use to help you mourn your loss. Before we move on, let’s first take a look at what coping skills are, exactly.
What Do We Mean By Coping Skills?
Coping skills are your actions and thoughts that you respond with to the situations that cause you stress. These are the strategies you use to manage your unmanageable emotions such as anger, fear, sadness, and anxiety. Coping skills don’t necessarily resolve the distress, but they might help you manage your emotions.
Coping skills can be simple and short to help you deal with a short-term situation, but others can be long-term strategies to help you deal with stronger emotions such as grief. Some coping skills do more harm than good, especially if they are unhealthy.
There are two types of coping skills that we employ in our lives; avoidant and active coping strategies.
As the names suggest, active coping skills are the ones you use to directly address the source of your turbulent emotions while avoidant coping skills are the ones where you use certain strategies to take your mind off of the situation that caused the emotions.
Here’s an example to help you understand; an active coping skill is when you ask for help to resolve a situation, but avoidant coping skills are when you turn to unhealthy behaviors such as substance use to cope with your emotions.
Here are some of the healthiest coping skills for grief to help you mourn your loss.
Healthy Coping Skills for Grief and Loss
1. Positive Reframing
Positive reframing means that you look at the other side of the coin. Reframing can include thoughts and even emotions. During grief, positive reframing can be challenging because there’s nothing positive to connect the loss with. But this coping skill isn’t that. I’m not asking you to disregard your loss or its importance but asking you to focus on the positive memories of your loss.
Here’s an example; try to focus on the happy memories you created with the person or the lesson you learned from the loss of a relationship. These thoughts can help you reframe your grief and find a new path to move on.
2. Bringing In The Laughs
I know that humor isn’t welcome or even appreciated when you’re grieving, but there are moments when you can bring in some laughs. Of course, this depends on your situation it does not always work but bringing in the laughs can be a good coping skill for grief.
You can try to focus on the funny memories here or watch your lost one’s favorite sitcom. Again, I’m not saying that you dismiss your loss with humor but to hold on to the funny memories and positive times to help you process your grief.
3. Connecting Spiritually
When you connect with a higher power, it can help you cope with your grief too. If you connect spiritually and get a sense of a pain-free afterlife, then it could help you process your loss and mourn in a comforting way.
You can indulge in prayers or rituals that resonate with you the most to find a closer connection or closure to the loss.
4. Accepting Your Situation
You’ve acknowledged your grief but have you truly accepted it? I’m not talking about feeling OK with the loss. Here, I’m asking you to focus on what next aspect of your life. How you can live with your loss from this point forward?
Here, you need to readjust your life around your loss, and this means accepting your loss and all the emotions that come with it. When you focus on “What’s next”, you draw out positive feelings such as gratitude and hope in your life.
5. Changing Perspective
Perspective is not always looking at the big picture, it’s also about changing your perception. You need to see more than what’s presented and think more than the immediate picture. When coping with grief, you need to consider the aspects that are beyond your loss.
Try to take away a lesson you learned or a new memory you gained from the event or the loss.
6. Solving A Problem
Loss isn’t always about death. Loss can be of home, relationships, or an event you cared for. If it’s not a death-related loss, you can control your situation by solving problems. Here’s an example; try some self-reflection, focus on a new task, move to a new place, or organize your home.
Coping Skills vs. Self-Care vs. Defense Mechanisms
Healthy coping skills and self-care can look a lot similar, but they are not the same thing. Even defense mechanisms are the subconscious response to protect your mental and emotional well-being. For example, defense mechanisms can look like feeling optimistic even after a bad breakup. That’s your mind protecting you from the emotions.
If we talk about self-care, it’s a coping mechanism too, as it helps you manage your emotions and get a new perspective on your situation. Here’s what self-care can look like;
- Going to therapy
- Practicing relaxation exercises
- Writing in a journal
- Seeking social support
- Seeking the company of family and friends
- Starting a new hobby
- Pursuing a new interest
What To Do Next?
Building and working on coping strategies for grief can take some time, but if you’re coping with grief, here’s what all you can do;
- Seeking grief support from support groups
- Seeking grief counseling
- Accepting the process of grief
- Focusing on immediate solutions
- Expressing your feelings in a journal
- Identifying emotional triggers
- Engaging in activities you like
- Being self-compassionate and patient with yourself
- Getting enough rest
- Setting short-term goals
If you’re having trouble grieving or processing your loss, then know that it’s natural. There’s no set way to tell you how to grieve. All you need to take care of is yourself and your loved ones. If it’s still hard to cope with grief, you can reach out for help.
Grief is something we all experience, but when it becomes too overwhelming to cope with, you can seek a professional’s help in coping with your loss. With time and the right coping skills, you’ll be able to overcome the turbulent emotions and begin a new path to healing.
I hope this article helped you learn the coping skills to process your grief. For more, you can write to us at email@example.com or DM us on social media. You can also share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.