“The thing about grief is that it’s a roller coaster – it’s up, it’s down. The emotions sometimes take over.” Actor Brent Sexton
When loss becomes grief, you may find you’ve become the reluctant rider on an emotional roller coaster. One day, you may feel like you’re climbing out of a low point, inching higher toward relief and a clear view of things.
Then you suddenly find yourself plummeting down again, dipping into difficult emotions or longing, caught by surprise.
Grief is not linear or concerned with which “stage” you’re in. It often goes its own way — winding, turning back on itself, coasting and careening — as you hold on, just trying to breathe through it.
Grief can feel like too much to take, but you can survive the ride. Here are some ways to deal with the disbelief and disorientation, misleading evened-out periods, and wrenching twists and turns, until finally growth and acceptance come:
Be patient with yourself.
This is not a process to rush.
Rest as much as possible.
Surviving the exhausting highs and lows requires stamina. Try for eight hours of sleep nightly, and periods of rest during the day, early on. Talk to your doctor if disrupted sleep persists. Mental clarity and relief will be hard to come by without restorative sleep.
Support from loved ones is crucial.
Don’t endure this alone. Let people be there for you. Having compassionate, trusted loved ones with you on this journey can help lift you out of painful valleys of grief sooner.
Try to strike a balance.
You may find yourself trying to manage your grief with avoidance. You may head off the upswing of painful emotions by becoming busy or active in ways that leave little time for processing your loss. This is not helpful in the long run, and only buries grief for a little while. You’ll find you’ve actually just prolonged the roller coaster ride. Instead, try journaling or meditation as a means of allowing yourself quiet space, to work through the thoughts and feelings connected to loss and life after.
Be aware of your physical grief.
Grief manifests physically, as well as emotionally, or psychologically. Notice and observe your bodily sensations as grief ebbs and flows. How do you carry your body when you are actively grieving? You may recognise that tension in your head, back, and neck come when grief is most acute. Sit with that realisation, and try to allow your body relax and heal. Breathe deeply. Simply give your body the peace and attention it needs.
Move your body.
To recover from grief, your body chemistry requires optimal conditions. You may be tempted to sink into depression, if you physically slow down to a crawl. Resist the urge to shut down. Just a short walk or yoga class can help keep your mood elevated, and your mind clear.
Share your grief who those who have been there and understand.
Sometimes you just need to know that other people really do feel your pain. It’s helpful to talk to those who have endured the same peaks and valleys, and had the same thoughts about it. You need to know that you aren’t going crazy, or doing grief wrong. Ride the roller coaster with people who get it, and will ride out grief with you.
Sometimes the roller coaster is just too filled with complications, and seems to get stuck for too long, in certain parts of the ride. If circumstances surrounding your loss are too overwhelming, reach out for expert help. Grief counselling can make a world of difference, and relieve the sense that the roller coaster ride will last forever.
Call Neil Ward Counselling on 07970860711 today, if you are interested in bereavement counselling in Glasgow.