Over the past year, grief has permeated all our lives. There’s grief over lost loved ones, as well as grief over missed connections and milestones. And levels of loneliness and depression have skyrocketed as a result of our collective suffering, according to recent research published in the online journal Nature.
There is no right or wrong way to work through grief, clinical psychologist Jennifer Ramlo Ph.D., tells Thrive — the important thing is that you work through it. If you’re struggling to cope with your grief, here are five suggestions that can help.
Allow yourself to feel everything
“The first step in the grieving process is to accept the reality of your loss and feel every emotion,” Ramlo says. “You’re likely to experience sadness, anger and possibly guilt and those feelings come in waves. Just be okay with your emotions.” It’s helpful to remember that the person you are mourning will always be with you because you always have your own internal experience of your loved one, she says.
Write about your feelings
“Writing about your emotions can provide a release and help ease the pain,” Ramlo says. “Just the act of taking your grief out of your head and putting it on paper can be therapeutic.” Write about anything and without editing, she says. Don’t worry about grammar!
It’s helpful to share your experiences with others who are going through something similar, because it helps to know you’re not alone. Ramlo recommends joining a support group like Grieving.com, or talking with a supportive friend. Working can be difficult when you are grieving, so it’s important to explain what is going on to your boss and ask for the space you need to recover in your own time.
Seek out movement
When we’re grieving, moving our bodies physically can help move the sadness, too. Try to take a healing walk in nature on a daily basis. “Getting outside, breathing fresh air and moving your body is great for well-being and helps you get some perspective so you’re not overwhelmed,” Ramlo says. You also want to prioritize sleep and eating well, which will support you in staying strong.
Have a laugh
Laughter is great medicine, so when you’re ready, try watching or listening to comedy or letting a funny friend cheer you up. Humor “reminds us that life still goes on, even as we live through tough times,” Kathleen LaCamera, a filmmaker and a community mental health chaplain, tells Thrive.
On a final note, these wise words from President Biden, a leader who has experienced tragic loss himself: “The day will come when the memory of the loved one you lost will bring a smile to your lips before a tear to your eye. It will come. I promise you.”