Grieving is a process unique to the individual experiencing it. Some may cry, some may feel empty, and others may experience anger.
In many ways, grief is similar to clinical depression. Some people may feel extreme sadness, insomnia, poor appetite, and/or weight loss. Grief can also develop into complicated grief, which, unlike uncomplicated grief, does not seem to dissipate with time and can look a lot like depression.
Depression, however, introduces feelings of guilt and unworthiness not related to the loss. People experiencing complicated grief are unlikely to strongly contemplate taking their own life, whereas some people with depression have frequent thoughts of suicide. Unlike grief, which is a feeling and process, depression is a medical concern.
For people experiencing depression, the only way to cope and heal is to seek professional help. This may include antidepressants or therapy. A great first step is to contact the National Helpline (1-800-662-4357) which will then connect callers to local services. For those experiencing grief, however, there are small steps that can be taken to help cope and process the feeling. To assist the grieving process, the National Foundation for Cancer Research has compiled 10 simple steps to cope with grief.
Surround yourself with supportive people
Find friends or family members who accept your grief. Many people feel as if they must hide their sadness around others, and that can disrupt the healing process. This can lead to isolation and increased sadness. Instead, surround yourself with people who are comfortable with your grieving process.
Be gentle with yourself
There is no specific timeframe in place for someone to accept their loss and move on from grieving. Don’t judge yourself harshly for ‘not doing better’ or ‘taking too long’ along the way.
Express your grief
If you want to cry, cry. If you want to feel anger, allow yourself to do so. Express your grief and learn about it. Acknowledging your feelings will help you move forward.
It can be challenging to will yourself out of bed some days. However, it is so important to regulate your body with a bit of exercise each day. Exercise releases endorphins that will boost your mood naturally. Start with small goals – like running up the stairs one time – and continue building into larger sequences.
Keep a journal
A journal is a tool that allows you to safely express yourself. Let all of your feelings flood the paper, whether it is sadness, anger, or regret. Sometimes, even with the best support systems, it is difficult to express these feelings. Finding a safe and personal way to do so will help in processing such feelings.
Grieving can be exhausting. Don’t overbook your schedule or make too many commitments. Allow yourself extra time to rest and process all that is happening.
- Have a little fun
Though it is important to pace yourself, allow yourself the opportunity to do things you love. Whether it is a hobby or spending time with a friend who always makes you laugh, incorporate joy into your life – even if it is just a little at a time.
- Set a regular sleep schedule
Your mind may be racing all night and you may even experience insomnia. However, getting enough sleep is vital in keeping your mind and body healthy. Create a nighttime routine to help prepare for a full 8-hours sleep.
- Make a list of activities each day
It is common to experience forgetfulness when grieving. Making a list of goals or activities that need to be done will help you stay on track. Keep the list short with only important activities.
- Talk to your doctor
You may or may not be concerned about depression developing from your grief. If you are concerned, speak to your doctor right away. However, even if you are not concerned about depression, speaking to your doctor can help you find ways to cope.
If you are looking for a great way to remember your loved one, please consider supporting lifesaving cancer research in their name. In memory of your loved one, world renowned NFCR researchers and scientists will lead the fight to treat and cure cancer—all cancer. Explore NFCR’s memorial Rose Fund or make a generous gift in memory of your loved one now.
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