What Must I Do to Mourn in a Healthy Way?
Mourning is not a very pleasant period. But despite this, many people are all too familiar with this state. It is often coupled with feelings of grief. That being said, grief is often interchanged with mourning despite the two being distinctly different. Grief is the internal feeling one experiences after going through a loss, and mourning is the way this grief is expressed.
Moreover, grief can further be subdivided into feelings of anger, sadness, denial, and other emotions that one may feel after a loss. They are internal, happening within you, and are, therefore, uniquely experienced by you. It is a personal journey that an individual has to navigate. When you engage in activities to share your grief, this is what mourning looks like.
It can be expressed in clothing, reminiscing the past by looking at photos, or discussing past memories with others. With that said, mourning is integral to experiencing and processing grief. Although feelings of grief may never go away, even with time, there are several ways to manage and work through it. Here are some ways to help you process your grief and mourn healthily.
1. Acknowledge and face your new reality
Most people know that one of the first stages of grief is denial. At the onset of grief that comes with losing a loved one, the immediate natural reaction is to reject or not accept that death occurred. The demise of loved ones is often abrupt and brutal to accept. Even if death claims the life of someone sick for a long time, there’s still a state of denial.
But, it is vital to the healing process that you come to terms with the reality that death did happen. Replaying the idea of your loved one’s death in your head can help with acceptance. However, be careful not to overthink because it could also feel isolating and painful. Instead, you can write in a journal or speak about death to trusted people. Accepting a new reality will take time, but there’s no need to rush. What’s important is you give yourself ample time to work out your disbelief.
2. Embrace the pain that comes with loss
It is okay to feel terrible, horrible, and like your world has turned upside down after losing a loved one. One may say it’s as if you’re living without a limb. In this case, there is no need to put up a strong face. It is alright to feel down and to allow yourself to be vulnerable. Hence, for the time being, you may not feel in control.
Remember, the more you bottle up your feelings of grief, the more they tend to grow. Consequently, the more difficult it will be for you to move on. Instead, give yourself permission to feel the pain. Let it out, cry, and scream if you need to. Seek out close friends and family, and be honest about your feelings. Share your pain and take time to reflect on it. Just like a missing limb, the pain will eventually fade. And you will learn to function without it, but you will never forget that it’s not there.
3. Remember your dearly departed loved one
Though your loved one may have left the physical world, they never really leave, as they will remain ingrained in your memories forever. Tapping into such memories is an essential aspect of mourning. Doing so will allow you to remember joyful moments and evoke such feelings in the present time.
In the beginning, it may sting a little. But eventually, going down memory lane will remind you of the great times you had together. Go over a photo album, or watch a video compilation to help jog your memory. Eventually, you may realize that you can visit the grave or the columbarium without falling apart.
4. Develop a new self-image or self-identity
Losing someone close to you may feel like losing an extension of yourself. This may cause you to feel like a different person. For example, instead of being a husband, a man who loses a wife becomes a widower. Similarly, a parent who loses an only child may feel lost.
This new self-identity may be difficult to come to terms with, but again acceptance is key. Mourning will give you strength as you may find yourself filling in the shoes and roles the deceased left behind. It may be difficult, but it is a milestone in healing to accept your new identity and new normal.
5. Look for meaning and purpose
When shrouded by a dark overhanging cloud of pain, anger, and sadness, it can be easy to lose sight of the meaning of life. You may find yourself questioning the universe or other divine beings because everything feels unfair. Sometimes, you may feel as if you’ve lost everything. But the truth is that your purpose does not end when a loved one dies.
It is healthy to seek out something new. Instead of pondering over the loss, look onward and upward. Now is the time to discover yourself outside your relationship with the decedent. You may be surprised that this will give you a new sense of purpose.
6. Be open to receiving ongoing support from others
During gloomy times, one may instinctively withdraw from social settings and remain reclusive for a moment. However, this can negatively affect your mourning and healing process. The more isolated you are, the harder it will be to accept and move on with your life.
It is essential to mourn and be open to receiving the support that others may give you. Engage in mutually supportive discussions with friends and family. You may even seek help from a counselor or therapist. Grief is something that you never completely get over. But, with these things in mind, it can be manageable, especially when expressed in a healthy way.
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