This excerpt on coping with grief sadness is from Emotional Healing (Pegasus), by Fred Colby. Purchase it on Amazon.
Coping with Grief Sadness
How many of you reading this have found your heart torn into pieces, your emotional world exploded? No matter what words of comfort are offered by a friend or professional or therapist, there are no shortcuts to coping with “grief sadness”.
There can be little doubt that the sadness that you may experience may on occasion bring you to your knees. My message of hope, however, is that over time, and with the assistance of this book, you will develop coping mechanisms which will allow you to pick up the pieces of your life and move on. Even if this new life you encounter is different from what went before. It will not be easy, but you can do it. You can emotionally self-heal.
Some Advice for Coping with Grief Sadness
Here are some professional and personal perspectives which might make it easier for you to achieve this goal.
1) Sadness is the body’s way of emotionally dealing with your loss, so it is a normal human emotion. It does not matter how intense the emotion is or how long it goes on for. It is critical to accept that it is normal for you to experience it. Please never feel there is something abnormal about you if you feel that you cannot shake off your sadness.
2) Never try to dodge or obstruct this emotion, but accept its embrace, even if intensely painful. For sadness cannot be pushed under the water. It will always come surging back up to meet you. I have known situations, years later, where those who have tried to block out this emotion of sadness find themselves suddenly breaking down. They are overcome with sadness and uncontrollable crying as the reality of their loss finally does arrive.
Healing Grief Sadness Takes Time
3) Take whatever time you feel necessary to rummage around in the rubble of your grief and loss, no matter how sad you feel. This might mean spending time in places where you feel closest to the person who has died. Or finding yourself crying seemingly for no reason and accepting that this is OK and normal. Or wishing to spend time on your own, trying to come to terms with your loss. It might mean holding their clothes to your face or looking at that photo which seems to capture their presence best. You do whatever works for you.
4) It is normal to experience the physical symptoms which often go with the emotion of sadness, such as crying or struggling to sleep or eat.
5) Never be afraid to display the emotion of sadness or cry in front of either family members, especially children, or friends or acquaintances in a social situation. Simply explain that you are missing the person. So many in my experience try to hide this emotion, instead of treating it as a normal reaction to loss, which should be understood by us all. Children will find it easier to release their own sadness if you are open about yours.
You Don’t Have to Cry to Heal Grief
6) If you find, on the other hand, that you are not a person who easily cries when feeling sad, then this too is both common and fine. You are not “letting down” the person you love. You still are missing them internally so badly.
7) Even as time moves on and the months and years pass, you will still find your heart buffeted by the winds of grief. Sadness will catch you unawares and tears will flood in. This occurred to me personally in a public situation when I, too, had to accept that it was just a sign of the love I had for the person. The sadness I felt reflected the reality that they were no longer with us, and that my sadness and tears were once again “normal”. If anything, were they not a reflection of the beauty and humanity within us all?
8) The good news is that, in general, the bouts of intense sadness do gradually begin to wane over the first few years. Your emotional brain begins to develop increased resilience. It is less likely to trigger this emotion. This does not mean that your loss is less, nor that you are “forgetting” the person, but rather that your emotional brain and psyche are adjusting to their loss.
Visiting Grave May Help
9) A common question relates to the final resting place of your loved one and how you respond emotionally to spending time there. Some of you may find visiting the grave of a loved one assists you to grieve. You may find yourself feeling sad or crying or simply sensing the presence of your loved one there. For others, however, you may experience a completely different set of emotions when present at the grave. You may feel nothing, or feel angry or frustrated or even depressed that you are struggling to connect with them at their final resting place.
People often ask me: “What is wrong with me that I cannot grieve or feel sad at my loved one’s last resting place? I know their physical remains are present but do not sense their presence. I often struggle to remain there, feeling increasingly frustrated, even angry. Am I abnormal?”
The answer is that this is completely normal and, more importantly, you are normal.
Each Person’s Grief Sadness is Unique
Each person is unique and will respond to loss in a manner which makes sense to them. You must discover where you sense the presence of the person most. It may be a room at home, or it may relate to some clothes or other items which were special to them. It may be their texture or smell.
Wherever you sense the presence of the person you loved, that is where you must go to grieve and leave yourself open to the sadness and, if it helps, allow the tears to flow. Find what works for you, and let it work for you. This might be one of the most important messages in our whole conversation on grief.
10) Finally, one of the most beautiful ways of assisting you in coping with your emotion of sadness is to reflect upon on a quote by C. S. Lewis from A Grief Observed. He wrote about his feelings following the death of his wife Joy: “The pain I feel now is the happiness I had before. That’s the deal.”
Would you have given up all the joy, love and wonderful times spent with the person who has died, to stop the pain you are feeling now? For most of us, the answer would be an emphatic ‘no’. So, in many ways it is love intermingled with loss that underlies your sadness. Hopefully this beautiful thought might bolster you as you try to cope with your emotional pain.
Dr. Harry Barry can be reached through his website, drharrybarry.com.