Managing Grief Better

What coping mechanisms do you use to process your grief? You may say it depends on the cause of the grief. It seems the number one coping choice is avoidance. Some people’s self-talk says to them, “just avoid it and you don’t have to deal with the pain”. Whatever that pain, choosing the denial emotion, does not ease the pain when stuffed down into the subconscious.

Is avoidance and denial the same thing? Denial is the refusal to admit the truth or reality of something. Denial is an emotion, an attempt to cope, realize or excuse behaviour. It is failing to acknowledge an unacceptable emotion or truth. It is used as a defensive mechanism against the situation or circumstances that are painful and overwhelming. What are fears of feelings all about? When one views expressions of feelings some may think happy feelings are acceptable but sad feelings, just steel our joy and we refuse to let it do that.

Avoidance coping is a maladaptive form of coping when a person changes their behaviour to avoid thinking about it, feeling or doing difficult things. It involves trying to avoid stressors rather than dealing with them. Confronting a problem or dealing with a stressor is the only way to effectively reduce the stress. Stress management is better than stress avoidance because we can’t avoid stress. We can manage it with effective coping techniques.

Active coping addresses a problem directly relieving stress. For example, talking through problems, reframing a situation, and recognizing the positive rather than focusing on the negatives. Active coping can be behavioural or cognitive coping involving change in how you think about the stressor. Both avoidance and denial are emotions that fail to acknowledge an unacceptable emotion like emotional hurts that cause pain.

Get in touch with your feelings. Know how you feel and why you feel that way. Remember your feelings are not obvious to others, sometimes you feel angry or resentful but don’t know why. The process of holding back and stuffing feelings goes to the subconscious mind which actively affects one’s life. Learning the balance of self-expression and its appropriateness is a challenge to some but not for others. Journaling helps one get in touch with their feelings, thoughts and expectations so you can communicate better. Sometimes it brings up some heavy issues that require seeing a psychotherapy.

Some think crying tears is an unacceptable emotion while laughing is an acceptable emotion. If the skin is cut it hurts and blood comes out. Some can’t stand the sight of blood, even though it is a body fluid. Tears are also a body fluid. Each person’s experience is unique, and they may not think it is important to deal with every loss in life. When losses come, some say life goes on, but when do we remember? Those who died in the war are remembered. We see “Lest We Forget” as a banner around flowers. We stop and remember those losses even though it is sad and grievous.

Some may think it’s ok to feel it but don’t express it. When God given feelings are suppressed and not acknowledged, some may experience an emotional death that could lead to a physical death like suicide. Self-acceptance of one’s humanness brings peace of mind. The self-acceptance that is real can withstand other’s comments without destroying one’s self worth. In 1975 Maurice E. Wagner wrote a book called “The Sensation of Being Somebody” which has helped many regain their self-confidence. Learn to accept yourself and others for a happier productive life. Should this be a struggle for you, see a Psychotherapist to achieve this goal.