5 Tips for Dealing With Grief

Posted by Shanda Gunter, ReNew Director on Apr 23, 2020

5 Tips for Dealing With Grief

Grief, ugh, that word sounds horrible, and we want to avoid it. We typically associate the dreaded “g” word with loss of life, but it’s so much more than that. Grief is the process of honoring something or someone we loved that we lost. It’s the processing of what we thought would or should be in light of a new and unwelcome reality in our hearts and minds. Sound familiar? When I think about grief in our current reality, I think of the high school seniors who are missing out on big moments they were looking forward to like proms, senior banquets, and graduations. My heart hurts for you. I hope school districts will honor you in some way when the chaos has settled. I also recognize that it may not be possible, and I’m sorry. I’m sorry you’re missing out. I’m sorry you may not have these experiences. Let me pause and talk to parents. Parents, I know that the stresses and worries of adult life are amplified right now, and it’s easy to dismiss what these teenagers are experiencing. I know you are experiencing different types of grief as well. But please remember that, to your teens, these are big losses. Put yourself in their shoes and remember how special these moments were to you when you were their age and even now. It’s a difficult loss. Give them grace. Let them experience and process their feelings. Don’t minimize what they are feeling. When it comes to grief and feelings, no one gets to define the importance of the loss that you feel. No matter what type of grief you are experiencing right now, here are some things that may help you understand grief better, making it easier when dealing with grief.

Three Kinds of Grief

I learned about the three categories of grief from our Pastoral of Counseling Ly Tran, and if you’ve heard him speak on grief before, you may notice that he added one. Little “g” grief can fly under the radar as loss of dreams, career, or experiences. Big “G” grief is connected to death. This type of grief is the result of an expected or impending loss, such as someone who is elderly or in poor health passes away or when someone diagnosed with terminal illness passes away. Lastly, there is complex grief, which typically involves trauma. Complex grief defies the natural order or reasoning when there is loss of a child, of a spouse, or of a first responder or loss due to suicide. When we experience grief, it may show up as anger, resentment, longing, admiration, disappointment, forgiveness, confusion, guilt, regret, or anything unresolved. How is your grief manifesting? What can we do to help? While I will focus primarily on little “g” grief, each of these tips can apply to all three grief categories.

Five Tips for Dealing With Grief

  1. Realize that grief is normal and healthy.
    Grieving is a normal, expected, and healthy reaction in the wake of loss, and it cannot be rushed. Grief serves as confirmation that you are actually processing your pain rather than bottling it up inside. Your grief is normal, and it will begin to subside as you heal and gain perspective.

  2. Allow yourself to feel the pain.
    You have experienced loss. Pain and grief are normal. Allow yourself to take time to actually work through the grieving part and heal emotionally. Trying to push through or ignoring it may seem easier, but it will only hurt you in the long run. If your grief is not felt and resolved, it will keep you tied down to the past.

  3. Maintain friendships.
    This may seem hard right now, but do your best to stay connected. Video chat with friends and open up to the people in your home. While time alone is healthy and it’s good to give yourself space to process what has happened, too much isolation can lead to depression and hopelessness. Spend time with people you trust and people you can fall apart around.

  4. Go to God.
    Be honest with God as you grieve. He weeps with you in your pain, and more than anything, He longs for you to be honest with Him. Whatever you’re feeling—anger, frustration, pain—talk to God about it. He may not answer all your questions, but He does offer peace.

  5. Find a way to move forward.
    Grief is finding a new way to honor loss and invest in the future even though the future may feel irrelevant at the time in the new world we are living in. You can write a letter—get it all out on paper—to help you honor and process your grief. When you’re ready to let go of that grief, you can symbolically let go of that letter. You can tear it up, burn it, bury it, or throw it away as a symbolic act of release. Let yourself be sad. Cry. Let it out. Release the pressure. God counts those tears and will gently and lovingly wipe them away. Isaiah 25:8 says, “The Lord God will wipe away the tears from every face and remove His people’s disgrace from the whole earth for the Lord has spoken."

Join us online this weekend for our series How to Hit a Curveball to learn how we can navigate our current struggles in a healthy way that keeps us moving forward!

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