It’s normal to feel like you’re stuck in quicksand when you’re grieving the death of a loved one. The pain can seem unbearable, and you may feel like you will never move on. However, with time and patience, you can cultivate resilience as a character trait that will help you move forward in your life. In this blog post, we will explore some tips for growing resilience in the face of grief.
There is a Time for Grief
You may have heard from others in bereavement that grief is a process with stages you must go through. For most of us, this is true. Immediately following the loss of a loved one is not the time to “move forward.”
To grieve well, you must spend time recognizing how you feel. Acknowledging and validating your feelings helps you to move through grief. In the beginning stages of grief, it can help tremendously to talk about your feelings without judging them. It is nearly impossible to go from watching a loved one’s traumatic sudden death to waking up feeling fine the next day. If you do wake up feeling fine, you’re still in shock or the “denial” stage of grief.
“Persistent, traumatic grief can cause us to cycle (sometimes quickly) through the stages of grief:
These stages are our attempts to process change and protect ourselves while we adapt to a new reality.” (1)
Recognize and Acknowledge Your Feelings
You may feel angry one day and feel debilitating sadness the next. Guilt is another feeling you may face during bereavement. If you pretend you do not feel sad and refuse to acknowledge the feeling, you only prolong the stages of grief.
Bereavement is an active time to recognize your feelings and sit with them as they peak. For example, feeling extreme sadness, you may cry or sob uncontrollably. As the wave of emotion passes, you may settle into numbness or move into anger. The intensity of these waves fades with time if you are willing to do active grief work.
The diligent work of grief is about letting yourself feel the powerful and often uncomfortable emotions each moment instead of pushing them away as unacceptable. It might be challenging to comprehend that the hurt of grief will only end when you feel your feelings without judging them and move into accepting what has happened. After all, acceptance is the final stage of the grieving process.
A Time to Cultivate Resiliency & Move Forward
Moving forward after the death of a loved one does not mean forgetting your loved one. It merely means that the intensity of your sadness, anger, and guilt feelings have settled into a place where you can start functioning normally again.
You may still feel lost, anxious, or confused about many things. These feelings are normal. However, depending on your situation, you may need grief counseling to work through what has happened.
After feeling all of the feelings for months or even a year, the place you finally reach is acceptance. It is a place where you can look at your loss without feeling overwhelmed with emotion. The intensity of overwhelming feelings reduces over time if you allow yourself space to acknowledge how you feel while grieving.
“Many suggest that… peace comes with the passage of time. That’s not quite true, however. Passively ticking days off of a calendar is not a panacea for loss, and those who cling to this axiom may avoid the necessary act of sitting still with grief.
Discovering life after loss is an active process in which you learn the art of resilience. Resilience doesn’t mean toughing out hard times; rather, resilience encompasses awareness, wellness, motivation, compassion, forgiveness, and skillful courage.” (2)
What Does it Mean to Cultivate Resilience?
Resilience is a way to describe your ability to cope with changing events, situations, and identity. It’s your adaptability to new conditions or your acceptance that you must move in a new direction. This feeling of coping doesn’t happen immediately, but you can choose to pursue resiliency during your battle with grief.
“Full resilience means pushing forward and advancing in the face of the challenges.” (3)
Adaptively coping with grief is pushing yourself to do what you know would benefit you despite the difficulty. Restorative practices include many different ways of working through feelings. The goal is to find your place of acceptance. Let’s look at ways you can build resiliency and move through grief concurrently.
Cultivate Resiliency: Connect With Others
Developing your social network while grieving can feel challenging and overwhelming at first. But, as humans, the reality is that we need interaction with others.
You can start slowly by joining a grief support network or seeing a grief counselor. Transitions Grief Care is a free option available in an 8-county service area around Wake county. Or you can seek out a chaplain, pastor, priest, or other religious affiliation’s leader for compassion and guidance.
Once you feel ready to take another step forward, find a group that enjoys an activity you do. Maybe join the local YMCA and take some exercise classes. Exercise has the additional benefit of giving you “happy” hormones (endorphins).
You could also try a new church or synagogue or mosque and study with others about your religious beliefs or take a class at a local community college and discuss religions or belief systems with others.
Cultivate Resilience: Journaling
Journaling in a state of mind flow can help you through difficult times. Your journal can become the daily place you trust to “let it out” in private. All the thoughts and feelings that bounce around your head all day can go into a journal. You can also make it a prayer journal and write to God daily if you like.
Another idea is to email yourself daily about your thoughts and feelings. With this journaling method, you can see how you feel better over time by looking at earlier entries six months prior! It’s always a boost to see yourself making progress.
Cultivate Resilience: Online Help
Another idea is to join an app online that helps you work through grief by discussing your feelings with a psychiatrist on video or chat. Cerebral, Amwell, MDLive, and Doctor On Demand work with insurance companies. Other apps work with monthly payments that keep you covered with chats, video counseling, and more.
Or you can look at other apps that allow you to discuss feelings with a bot or play games that give you a new perspective on how to see your life and loss. Some apps are especially for children. Possible grieving apps to try include:
- My Grief Angels
- Apart of Me
- Nino’s Mourning Toolbox (4)
We Can Help
At Renaissance Funeral Home and Crematory, we understand the devastation you feel when a loss occurs. Our goal is to take care of the complex planning required after a death. Our vision is to help you create beautiful and memorable moments to grieve your loss with friends and family.
With our funeral directors handling everything from the death certificate to the transportation and disposition of the body, you can count on us to help the process work smoothly. We are there for you during visitations, wakes, funerals or memorials, graveside services, and more.
Contact us today and find out how we can help you get through these seemingly impossible moments so that you can grieve and find your way back to hope.