Ways to Cope With Grief:
When we experience grief we can experience a variety of feelings. For example, when we experience the death of someone we often experience emotions such as sadness, anger, anxiety, guilt, and despair. Changes in sleep patterns and appetite can occur, as well as physical illness. These are all normal parts of grieving and the feelings can ebb and flow over time.
There is no "right way" and "wrong way" to grieve. Each person experiences grief in his or her own way, partly based on religious, cultural, social, and personal beliefs and partly because of the relationship with the person who died.
Bereavement, or the way we react to this type of loss, typically has four basic phases which typically occur: This process begins with numbness and shock. A feeling of separation follows this when we begin to realize the ways the dead person may be missed. Next comes a sense of disorganization a time period when we are easily distracted and might have difficulty concentrating or may feel restless. The last phase is one of reorganization when we have begun to adjust to life with the reality of the loss as part of our sense of what has taken place.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to help yourself is to talk to others about what you are going through. To cope with this experience it is very important to seek out people who understand your loss. It may be friends, family, therapists, clergy, or support groups. You can also help yourself by doing such things as keeping a journal, writing down your thoughts about what you are experiencing, reading books on how others have coped with loss, trying to find relaxing activities. It takes a long time to complete the grieving process, so you need to be patient to allow yourself the chance to grieve.
I would suggest that if someone wants to talk to you about his or her sense of loss then you could help most by just listening. I would urge you not to tell the person what they can do to "fix it." I don't think we can fix this for others, even if we want to help them out by doing so. Also, I would suggest that you not tell them that you know what they are going through. You may also be hurting, but everyone experiences this aspect of the human condition in a very individual way. Telling someone you know what he or she is going through may only make him or her feel like you are not really listening or trying to "out grieve" him or her.
At the Student Counseling Center we are here to help you. If you just want to drop in and talk to someone, even if briefly, we are more than ready to listen. We won't try to give you advice or tell you what to do, but we will be with you and listen and support you in what you are going through. We can also direct you to other resources where you can get the help you may want.
In all of this, remember to honor your own individual ways of coping and to give yourself time to heal.