Grief comes in many shapes and sizes. No one person grieves the same way. For many, the grieving process can be all too overwhelming…slowly taking hold of other aspects of their life (including our mental and physical health). Thankfully, there are healthy ways that you can manage and understand your grieving process while ensuring that you are prioritizing your overall wellbeing. Grieving is a natural process that the majority of us will experience at least once in our lives. However, there are different types of grief that may have a bigger impact on our emotional wellbeing. The grieving process can take place when any type of loss occurs from death to divorce and everything in between.
The key here is to recognize when over time you don’t feel like you are recovering very well and might need some kind of mental health intervention. Additionally, some people who have suffered unexpected traumatic grief may benefit from mental health treatment right away to avoid chronic suffering. We interviewed Dr. Teralyn Sell, psychotherapist and brain health expert, to elaborate on how the grieving process can impact our mental health and how you can better manage it.
This Is How Grief Impacts Mental Health and How to Manage It
1) There is no right or wrong way to grieve
Though we talk about the stages of grief as being linear, it is not. You can go through the stages and bounce around a little bit. That is ok. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. So let go of any grief-related expectations and allow yourself to grieve how you want when you want.
When we get lost in our emotions, we often forget to do some very basic things like eating and sleeping. It is important to remind yourself to do those basic things as a way to fight off chronic stress. Additionally, blood sugar dysregulation will create an emotional roller coaster or exemplify the one you are already on.
3) Be emotional support rather than a fixer
If your loved one is grieving, being an emotional support to them is key. Understanding that we cannot fix their grief is important, it relieves us of the idea that we need to do something. Instead, be an open door for them and listen to them emotionally without the need to fix it.
4) Seek mental health treatment
If your grief is traumatic, or if you feel like you just can’t move through it after a period of time, go ahead and seek mental health treatment. You can see an individual therapist, go to a grief support group or even engage in trauma treatment. It is important to note that going to treatment will not take away memories of your loved one. Instead, it might help you move more toward understanding and acceptance.