Yesterday I did a crazy thing. I deleted a text thread, the last piece of the puzzle of a lost relationship. Though it’s been 4 years since I buried this boy, I keep coming back to him. I’ve hidden little breadcrumbs of him throughout my life, and yet somehow still find it shocking when the discovery of one brings me to my knees after all this time.
There are five stages of grief, but I’ve never known those stages to be very linear. You slip from one to the other, and back again. Sometimes one stage superimposes itself on the next and you’re caught in this state of dissonance that you’re not quite sure how to process. Sometimes one stage lasts years, while the next flies by in a day.
If you’re grieving a loss, understand that you are entitled to take the time that you need to heal. There is no rush. There is no right way to grieve, but if you’re looking for guidance, here’s a place to start:
- Acknowledge your feelings: Expressing yourself–either internally, to a friend, or to a professional–will help you begin to process your feelings by acknowledging their existence and their intensity. Whatever your feeling, allow yourself to feel it completely whenever it arises. It’ll come in waves. Embrace them.
- Maintain your routine: It’s not always easy, but the best way to keep yourself from sinking into a depressive state is to keep moving. Understand that your emotions can be unpredictable, and that you may need to step away from time to time, but maintaining your routine will give you a sense of normalcy that can be comforting. It can establish a sense of purpose that pushes you forward.
- Take care of yourself: Remember to rest and stay healthy. Self-care is essential not only for your physical energy, but also for your mental and emotional wellbeing. Emotions feel heightened when we’re hungry or tired. Give your body what it needs.
- Find a healthy outlet: It can be easy to turn to vices to help us deal with the loss of something or someone, but if you’re looking for a place to turn, make sure it’s a healthy outlet. For some it’s counseling, for others it’s creative acts like writing or physical acts like running. These outlets release pent-up energy and anxiety and give you a sense of peace.
There is no way to predict how grief will manifest itself. Each experience is unique and will require something different of you. Feel what you feel when you feel it, but then give yourself permission to heal.