In our society death is something to be feared and avoided at all cost. It is not something we talk about freely and the given “standard” to deal with it is to cry a bit and then move on..but what if it isn’t that easy? Grief can take years to fully process and can surprise us when it hits. It is not something that can be dealt with and forgot about, it is something that does not follow a set standard for everyone or every situation. There is no right way or wrong way to grieve, even avoiding it for a bit until you have the skills/capacity to deal with it is okay but it is not something you can put off forever. It will manifest somehow in you life eventually.
A close friend of mine had started running and had a goal of eventually completing a 5k yet no matter how much training she did she could not run longer than 20 minutes. She hit a roadblock, she would call saying her legs were fine just mentally she could not do it. After a week of this and trying to figure out what the issue was she realized it was due to grief…her dad had died a couple of years ago and instead of dealing with her grief she had gotten 2 jobs, started grad school and did as much as possible to avoid it. Though with running she had 30 whole minutes to herself daily, to think and feel, no one demanding her to think about various problems and because of this her grief kept popping up and she finally decided she was strong enough to process and deal with the loss of her father. It took another couple of weeks and a support group but she was able to run again for long periods of time and could even relax a bit without feeling a nagging deep inside herself.
No matter how much we want to avoid it these things pop up and so I thought we could share some tips/insights that might be helpful to deal with grief. Please note that no one follows the same path to heal from loss, there is no wrong way or right way to feel. If you lose someone of importance in your life the grieving process can takes years and it can evolve, and giving yourself some slack and room to experience it can help not only you deal with the loss but also help continue you on your path of emotional maturity and strength. It is okay to feel anger, sadness, frustration and even happiness towards the person who died. You might also feel regret and or guilt and if so some of the process to process your grief will to be to accept what took place and to forgive yourself as well.
We recommend finding a grief support group. If you have never been to a group before we would like to clear some things up: you are not required to talk..honestly. It is okay to sit and listen. Confidentiality within group members is required and respected. The reason why a group could be helpful is that it helps people realize that they are not alone, that is it okay to feel mad, sad, hurt, abandoned, etc, etc, etc. It can also help you figure out what exactly you are feelings…so many times (especially in our society) we are not taught how to articulate what we are feeling so hearing someone else describe themselves might help you realize “me too!” or “exactly”. Groups also offer hope. Many times there are members at different stages of grief and because of that you can see that even though it is super hard right now there is a light at the end of the tunnel, that peace can be achieved and sometimes that can give enough strength to continue on the journey that is grief.
Some local groups are:
Grief Watch has a list of both infant loss support groups and partner loss
The Dougy Center is a great place for groups helping children and teens deal with death.
Also ask your insurance providers if they provide a support group (for example Kaiser has many that are low cost) and if you are religious your local church might also provide supports. Do not be afraid to try a variety of different groups. Some are very structured, some are focused on the social factor than a set “to do” list, some incorporate art/spirituality/meditation/food/etc, even the different people who make up the group can play a significant factor on if you feel comfortable, supported and connected. Group therapy can also lower the cost of getting services which is also a benefit. Currently LINKtherapy does not offer a therapy group for grief but can provide individual therapy if you do not feel that currently a group therapy session is a good fit for you. A lot of people will attend one type of therapy for a bit and then switch to the other as needed to help them heal and process their loss. Give us a call or email for more information or to schedule a session.