Nine Ways Therapists Personally Deal With Grief
Snippets (I’m not going to reproduce all nine steps from their page on my blog):
From a death to a job loss to an ended relationship, here’s how experts handle loss.
By Ali Drucker
While there’s no right way to grieve, there are a number of strategies that can help you get through loss.
When you think of grief, the first thing that comes to mind is likely mourning the death of a loved one. But grief can surface around any major life transition, like ending a relationship, dealing with an illness, or even losing a job.
As Melissa Fisher Goldman, a licensed clinical social worker and member of the Association of Death Education and Counseling puts it, “we don’t get over grief; we get through it.”
For a little help getting through it, HuffPost chatted with Goldman and other therapists for practical advice on how they personally deal with grief. Here’s how they handle it:
Allow Yourself To Cry
This method may be obvious, but it’s important to point out. Danielle Forshee, a licensed clinical social worker in New Jersey, said that during times of grief, she makes an effort not to suppress her tears.
There’s actually some science that supports the benefits of a good, cathartic sob.
Researchers have found that so-called emotional tears ― different from the kinds that keep our eyes lubricated or flush out irritants ― contain hormones associated with stress, Forshee said.
So when you cry, you are quite literally releasing stress.
Don’t judge your grief
Goldman said that there’s no formula for how anyone experiences loss. “I had to remind myself that grief has no quantification. It looks different for everybody, including ourselves. Each time we deal with grief, it can feel different,” she said.
So instead of judging herself when she was experiencing grief, she simply accepted and felt her feelings, and for good reason. “When I judge [my grief] or when people judge it in general, we hold on to it longer,” she added. “We tend to want to push it away, which makes it come back bigger. So I honor whatever feeling I’m feeling.”
Two people who experience the same loss might approach it with totally different reactions, Goldman said, and worrying that you’re performing your grief incorrectly is only going to make it harder for you to work through it
Ask For Help
Another seemingly obvious but truly vital strategy to cope with grief is asking for help. Jaime Gleicher, a psychotherapist based in New York, said this is one of her go-to practices.
“When we think of asking for help, we think of solutions, like there’s something that’s going to fix this,” Gleicher said. “We know innately as human beings that we’ve had a loss and no one can really bring that back for us. So we tend to not ask for help because it can be invalidating.”
But even though they can’t fix it, loved ones are usually more than willing to lend a hand. Even if it’s something as simple as asking for help picking up groceries, Gleicher recommends reaching out.
…. Forget those five stages of grief
OK, don’t totally forget them, but don’t take them literally.
According to Gleicher, the Kübler-Ross model of the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) is really more about acknowledging there will be many different emotions that come up during grieving.
You shouldn’t expect to feel each one of these in that specific order, or even at all.
Our memories and nostalgia can trigger any of those stages unexpectedly. For example, although Gleicher lost her father 10 years ago and feels fine most of the time, when someone made his favorite dessert unexpectedly this Christmas, she found herself feeling sad again. Grief isn’t a linear process.