The importance of tackling grief

by Caroline Hughes

Grief is one of the most powerful emotions that humans can experience. It’s an inevitable fact of life that sooner or later, we will all experience in some way.

It can make or break us, and if not handled properly, it can shatter our spirits temporarily or permanently.

The misconception about grief

People most commonly associate the words “grief” and “mourn,” with death or dying. The biggest misconception about grief is that it is an emotion solely linked to death. However, it can result from multitude of losses.

The divorce of your parents, rejection into college and the loss of a pet can all cause grief. A big problem with grief is that most people don’t know when they’re experiencing it, and oftentimes, it is left as an open sore to fester in other areas of our lives.

Productive or self-destructive grief

It’s common that when people are struck with grief, they find themselves at a figurative fork in the road where they can choose to either take one path or another.

There is no grey area when dealing with grief. You can allow it to control your life or you can learn to cope.

Most people who seem screwed up in some way or simply jaded most likely didn’t get that way by chance. Many of these people encountered a situation — or series of situations — that left them feeling hopeless and causing them to turn to vices that only exacerbate their “screwed up” state of being. That’s one possible path.

Other people seem to rise to the top despite the odds stacked against them. That’s the other path.

Recognize it

Half the battle of dealing with grief is recognizing its existence. It’s a deep, seemingly bottomless feeling of sadness and despair.

Feeling hopeless can lead you to question everything you believe about the world, life and about your role in it. Upon experiencing a major loss or upset, it’s important to acknowledge this dark presence in your life and determine how you’ll deal with it.

Don’t downplay your sadness; understand that we experience emotion for a reason. When we feel, we are reminded that we are living, breathing humans who are capable of darkness, lightness and everything in between.

Each person’s journey through grief is unique to him or her and each person must experience it in his or her own way. Find healthy things that are enjoyable for you and make time to do them. Regardless of whatever it is — whether it’s taking a bath with a glass of wine, exercise, reading or Netflix binging — do it.

Another little known fact about grief is that oftentimes, after the storm subsides, it’s an incredible opportunity to reevaluate and strengthen yourself emotionally.

What doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger. If you can muster up the courage to see the light at the end of the tunnel, you’ll meet that light and you’ll be glad you hung on.

Experiencing real loss and sadness can force you to see things, people and the world in a new perspective and you should welcome any chance to change your perceptions — even if it’s just a little.

Come out on top

Bad things happen in life. Bad things will always happen in life. Death, divorce and disappointment: There’s no magical way around them.

The best way to handle grief is to tackle it head on and know that you’ll make it through to the other side as a better and stronger person.

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