Grief can be one of the most debilitating experiences that a person can go through. Aside from the emotional dark cloud that it hangs over your head, it also puts your loved ones and those around you in some level of stress and unhappiness. Especially as you try to get through the early stages of grief.
And as much as grief takes time to run its natural course, the early stages are the most difficult to cope with, with some victims making decisions that usually harm them permanently. So, how does one cope with grief? Well, it all starts with you. Here are some tips to help get through the early stages of grief.
1. Get Some Rest
First of all, you need to get a lot of rest. It sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it? But it is usually not that easy to do. Many people tend to keep the body and mind busy with a lot of work in order to escape the pain. And as much as this might work, the body also needs some time off to take a break and just relax or rest. Getting a long nap, taking a leisurely walk to enjoy nature, or making yourself a cup of calming tea can help to prevent your body from breaking down.
2. Make Lists
Another way to get through the early stages of grief is to make lists. It is very easy to forget important things when our minds are thinking about too many things at once. So it’s a good idea to make lists of only the very important stuff and short tasks that don’t require you to engage in long periods of concentration.
If you have some very important appointments coming up, then write them down, set a reminder on your phone, or ask a loved one to remind you. As we mentioned earlier, grief needs the generosity of time to run its course. And while you wait patiently for this phase to pass, don’t lose track of the important things in your life. Your brain will recover fully in time.
3. Don’t Keep the Pain Bottled In
Another tip to get through the early stages of grief is to make a point to not keep the pain bottled in. A lot of people – especially men – feel that crying out your pain or speaking about it is a sign of weakness. Thus, they bottle it all inside and allow the welter of emotions to eat up from within.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with crying out when you cannot contain your emotions – it does matter the number of times to need to cry to feel better. Tears, they say, offer a healthy emotional release of everything going on within you.
Aside from shedding healthy tears, do not be afraid of speaking to someone who is willing to listen. What is that thing they say about a problem shared? It is a problem halved, of course. Be sure to speak to someone only if you are comfortable doing so with that person. Loved ones offer some of the best forms of comfort during our moments of grief.
4. Keep a Gratitude Journal
Something as simple as writing a journal can be very effective when trying to get through the early stages of grief. There are two ways writing a journal can help a grieving person cope or even feel better. The first way has to do with providing a form of outlet for your grief. Write down all your pain, anger, and every other negative emotion brewing inside of you. As soon as any negative thought runs through your mind, write it down and let it go. Releasing all your pent up feelings is the first step towards your healing process.
The second way has to do with keeping a gratitude journal. If the cause of your grief is a result of losing someone, then write down all the positive memories you had with this person, and focus on those. And if reliving the past is too much for you, then take enough time every morning to write at least five blessings you still have in your life despite your loss.
Then, at the end of each day, write down at least five positive things that happened to you during the day. It could be something as little as receiving a smile from a stranger or experiencing the warmth of the sun.
A gratitude journal helps to fill our minds with thankfulness and positivity. And these are essential when trying to overcome or deal with grief.
5. Get Exercise
Getting up to 30 minutes or an hour of moderate exercise is very beneficial to your mind and body. It also helps you get through the early stages of grief. According to experts, exercise leads to the release of endorphins, which boosts immunity while also helping to improve the mood.
Regular exercise also comes with other added benefits such as lowering blood pressure, preventing heart diseases, and even boosting a person’s self-esteem.
You don’t need to find a gym to exercise regularly, neither does your exercise regimen need to be anything strenuous. Walking for half an hour or even some intensive yoga can be more than enough. The only important thing is that it should be a regular practice.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help When You Need It
When trying to get through the early stages of grief, you should not be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Aside from needing emotional support from friends and family, you may also find yourself need some form of physical assistance.
Grief can be very debilitating sometimes. And this can make it seemingly impossible for you to accomplish certain physical tasks – aside from the lack of will.
In such cases, don’t be afraid to call for help. It could be something as simple as trying to get something across the street or from your top shelf.
Most people are hesitant to ask for help in such cases, as they feel that doing so makes them look ‘useless.’ But asking for help can actually be the difference between harming yourself and being safe.
7. Eat regularly and drink loads of water
Ensure that you eat regularly to provide your body with the energy and nutrients it needs. It is normal for grief to steal any appetite you may have. But regular eating is essential, as it both nourishes your body and mind. It’s also a big step towards getting through the early stages of grief.
Serve small meals about four to five times a day if you are prone to eating a lot out of grief. It also helps to curb emotional swings as doing so keeps your blood sugar at a healthy level.
Complement your nutrition with loads of water. If your body is dehydrated, it will only add to your emotional drain and could bring other health problems along. Always make sure that you drink about 8 to 10 glasses of water each day.
8. Go at Your Own Pace
There is no set timeline for grieving. You should never rush yourself to get through the early stages of grief. Neither should you allow any other person to rush you. Grief has its natural course, and its lifespan differs from person to person and from situation to situation.
So give yourself enough time to heal at your own pace. It is far better to heal slowly but completely than to hasten the process and be left with some bottled up emotions. Let the process unfold, and go easy on yourself while it does.
9. Laugh Often
When trying to get through the early stages of grief, you need to pay particular attention to the kind of things you watch or listen to. If your grief is a result of losing someone, then your consumption of depressing content should stop after you have chosen the caskets and coffins for them and followed their final wishes. Continuing to do so may only end up triggering painful memories.
Instead, laugh as often as you can even if it may feel like the last thing you want to do. They say laughter is the best medicine; so use it. Watch comedies, or have the kind of company around you that will make you laugh out loud.
And don’t feel bad about it. Most people think laughing when you should be grieving is wrong. But grieving is not a healthy response to loss; it is just the natural one. Plus, laughter helps to break down the dark clouds hanging above your head. So, give yourself permission to laugh.
10. Don’t forget to keep breathing
Last, but not least, make sure you take it one day at a time and one breath at a time as you get through the early stages of grief. And if you find yourself drifting away or drowning in your emotions, then, take a couple of deep breaths. Your body requires enough oxygen supply from the bottom of the lungs. But this does not happen when you are panicking or stressed out, as most of the oxygen you get is not enough, and your breaths become shallow. This only adds negatively to the stress we may already be going through.
When you breathe in deeply and consciously, your lungs are given the right amount of oxygen supply to function normally while making sure that you are relaxed. Practice deep breathing exercises as often as possible. To do this, try drawing breaths through an imaginary straw. This sends the oxygen all the way down to your diaphragm – then slowly exhale. Repeat this as often as you can.
Final Thoughts on Getting Through the Early Stages of Grief
Grief is a natural thing to experience when we lose someone or something that we love. It’s also a process. Take your time as you get through the early stages of grief, and remember there is no wrong or right way to grieve. Once you finish the process, you will find it getting easier by the day to continue on.