Getting Through Grief and Letting Go
Letting go of grief is no easy task. Grief is something you might be holding tight to—a reminder of your loved one or a connection to their memory. Loosening your grip and ultimately surrendering your grief can seem like a scary and daunting task but it’s a necessary process you must go through to once again be whole.
New Hampshire Therapist Dr. Karyn Gunnet-Shoval, PhD, LP is a licensed Psychologist in NH, NY & VT and also PSYPACT approved to Practice Telehealth in 30+ States.
A Psychologist in Private Practice as well as a Lecturer, Harvard University and Assistant Professor & Director, Arkansas State University.
Before you can let go of grief, you must spend ample time with it. Letting go of grief isn’t something that can be done in a few weeks time. You must first allow yourself time to mourn, cry, anguish, and long for your loved one. The grief process is essential to your healing and shouldn’t be rushed.
There was work to be done—calls and emails to be sent, accounts to be closed, a funeral home to visit, details to be arranged. It was easy to get wound up in the process that occurs after one dies. For me, it provided a purpose, but it also provided a distraction. And I let it take over.
There is life after grief, however. Once you have moved through your grief, taking your time to allow natural feelings to flow and time to care for yourself, you might wake one day and find yourself ready for a fresh start. Just as Spring follows Winter, a new season is in bloom in your life—a season without daily pain and emotions of grief. You have changed and grown as a result of your loss and season of grief and it’s time to embrace the new you and step back out into the world.
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Steps for Working Through Grief
Once you’ve shed the heavy load of grief and embark on your new journey, keep in mind five important steps you must take:
1. Take Responsibility for Your Own Life: It’s time to realize you are no longer responsible for your loved one. You must give up any excuses for not moving forward in life and take 100% responsibility for yourself.
2. Change Your Way of Thinking: It’s time to change any negative self-talk to words of affirmation. Change “I can’t do that…” to “I can do anything!”, and “That won’t happen…” to “I can see this happening!”. Having a positive can-do attitude will sustain you on this new path.
3. Do Something New: You are a new person so it’s only fitting you do something new. Learn a new skill, travel to new places, do something you never thought you would do. Even if you think you don’t like something or think of something as too scary, just try it! You might discover that you actually like it after all or that taking risks can actually be fun.
4. Set New Personal Goals: Set new goals that you can begin to work towards. Set one goal for one year from now, another for two years from now, and a third for five years from now. Write these goals down in a journal or save them to your computer where you can find and revisit them often. Having goals to work towards will keep you moving on your new journey.
5. Help Someone Else: One of the best things you can do with all the lessons you’ve learned from your time in grief is to help another through their journey. You can volunteer at a hospice or community grief support center, moderate small grief-support groups, or be a one-on-one companion for someone who has just experienced a devastating loss. You will not only receive the reward of helping another in need, but you will also be frequently reminded of how far you have come.
Recognize this Grief as Normal
Remember that you will hit bumps in the road along the way. There will be days when your grief sneaks back in and threatens to derail your journey ahead. Recognize this grief as normal, allow it to visit for a short time, then send it on its way and continue down your path of healing.
By Angela Morrow, RN and Fact checked by Lisa Sullivan, MS