6 Ways to Handle Persistent Grief and Loss

A cartoon image of a woman with blue hair on a blue background cries as she learns how to deal with persistent grief and loss

Dealing with grief is a non-linear, multiple-stage process

Key takeaways:

  • Allow yourself grace as you go through the stages of grief.

  • Know that grief is a non-linear and personal process.

  • Acknowledge and accept that you’re feeling pain.

  • Surround yourself with a support system.

  • Engage in self-care and take care of your physical needs.

  • Recognize if you may have developed complicated grief and strongly consider seeking help.

  • Contemplate therapy to help you grieve your loss.

Grief is one of the most powerful, painful, and disruptive emotions we can experience. The pain, especially when fresh, can be debilitating, piercing, and overwhelming. And although the hurt can be devastating, it’s actually a normal and healthy response to a loss.

It’s important to remember that there’s no “right” way to handle grief and loss. Although there are stages of grief that everyone moves through, grief is a unique and personal non-linear process that will look different for everyone.

While certain people may live relatively well managing their distress, grief and loss can send others into a spiraling wreck. We talk about causes of grief, coping, and how therapy can help.

Any kind of loss can spark grief

When people think of grief, most think of a loss due to death. This is certainly true but grief can present itself anytime you have any loss. Here are some of the many things that may cause you to feel the pain of grief:

  • Death of a pet

  • Loss of health

  • Job loss

  • Divorce or the end of a romantic relationship

  • Losing a platonic friendship

  • A miscarriage

  • Retirement

  • Serious illness experienced by a loved one

  • Financial losses or financial instability

  • Loss of safety following trauma

  • Selling or moving out of a family home

Grief is personal and different people experience varied causes and symptoms. No one likes to feel pain – physical or emotional – but it will happen sometimes. We don’t deal with grief on a neat timeline but there are ways to handle it and come out on the other side. Below are six ways to handle persistent grief and loss.

1. Allow yourself grace as you move through the stages of grief

It’s totally normal to have difficult or negative emotions during this challenging time. It would be abnormal if you didn’t have some sort of emotional reaction. There is a grieving process that you’ll go through as you mourn your loss.

Grief is a very personal process. Allow yourself space to move through it. Allow yourself to feel the feelings that come up for you without judgment, whatever they are.

As mentioned, grief isn’t linear. Neither are the stages of grieving. You will move through the various stages on your own timeline. The stages of grief include shock and denial, pain and guilt, anger and bargaining, depression, the upward turn, reconstruction, and finally, acceptance and hope.

Because grief’s trajectory can be so chaotic, the Center for Complicated Grief categorizes it into two phases: the acute phase and an integrated phase. The acute phase occurs shortly after the loss and consists of the intense feelings typically associated with grief.

The integrated phase is where you have come to terms with the grief and allow space for it in your life. In this phase, it doesn’t overwhelm you and interfere with your daily functioning but rather co-exists with your life.

2. Acknowledge your pain

It’s important to acknowledge your pain so you can work through it and either learn to live with it or move past it. Denial and bargaining are part of the acute phase of grief but you will need to come to a point where you acknowledge the pain you are in as well as acknowledging your loss. You’ll eventually be able to move from acknowledgment to acceptance – that’s when the integration phase can begin.

3. Call on your support system

It may be tempting to isolate yourself when you’re grieving but now is the time to gather a strong support system around you: family members, friends, and trusted co-workers. Consider joining a support group for others who are experiencing the same type of loss you are. Remember that you’re never alone – there is more than likely a support group that fits your needs available in-person or virtually.

4. Self-care is important – so are your physical needs

Self-care can include basic tasks such as getting enough rest, eating nutritious meals, exercising, staying hydrated, keeping up with your personal hygiene, and ensuring the area around you is clean and well-cared for. It also includes pampering, massages, and anything you do to take care of yourself. It’s important to take care of your physical body while you tend to your emotional needs.

Prioritizing self-care is vital during this time. It may be tempting to stop caring about your appearance or engage in behaviors like indulging in ice cream or alcohol every night, but taking care of yourself should be a top priority during this tough time, even if you’re low on motivation.

Give yourself extra TLC and build habits that serve your mental and physical health. Habits become automatic behaviors, so good habits will carry you when your motivation and willpower are low.

5. Know the signs of complicated grief and when to seek help

Unfortunately, the pain from a significant loss is unlikely to ever completely disappear, but it should ease and become more bearable with time – hence the old adage, “Time heals all wounds.” If the grief isn’t abating and is beginning to interfere with your daily life and relationships, you may be dealing with what’s known as complicated grief.

Complicated grief occurs when you remain in a perpetual place of bereavement. It is most common after the death of a loved one. Signs of complicated grief include being unable to accept the loss, continually searching for your loved one, experiencing an intense longing for them, and feeling that life is no longer worth living without them.

If you’re experiencing complicated grief, it’s important to reach out and get help from a qualified professional. Dealing with such strong emotions shouldn’t be experienced alone.

6. Get support from a qualified, caring therapist in the Miami area

Loss is undoubtedly a heart-wrenching, challenging, and difficult process to deal with. Having the support from the right professionals can create a huge shift. While there’s nothing that can make grieving a pleasant process, therapy can help make it an easier process. Individual therapy for grief can be tremendously beneficial during this troubling time.

The team at Love Discovery is ready to welcome you with open arms. If you’re ready to get started in therapy to help you process your feelings about grief and loss, make an appointment with any of our therapists today. Feeling hesitant about how we can help? Call 786.571.4636 for a free 20-minute consultation.

We are here to help you improve your mental health and support you through this tough time.