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The Proper Way to Mourn

Angel Statue

The Proper Way to Mourn

There is no proper way to mourn, but there are healthy and unhealthy ways to manage your grief. Following these tips can help in dealing with the grieving process. 


What does it mean to mourn?

The death of a loved one is not the only catalyst of mourning. Similar feelings of loss, distress, confusion, and anger can also trigger these uncomfortable emotions. 

   - Divorce or the ending of a relationship

   - a severe illness or failing health

   - retirement

   - loss of a job or financial stability

   - loss of a cherished dream

Regardless of the source of your grief, the experience is a personal one. Shame or embarrassment has no place here because the grieving process is essential in discovering new meaning and getting back on track with life.


The Healthy Way

The most challenging part of mourning are the emotions associated with it: shock and disbelief, sadness, guilt, anger, and fear. But feelings are harmless when you allow yourself to feel them. The result of emotional avoidance can result in destructive behavior such as substance abuse, self-harm, and other mind-numbing activities. Here are a few suggestions from the University of Washington that can help.

  • Go gently — take whatever time it needs, rather than giving yourself a deadline for when you should be “over it.”
  • Expect and accept some reduction in your usual efficiency and consistency
  • Try to avoid taking on new responsibilities or making major life decisions for a time
  • Talk regularly about your grief and your memories with someone you trust
  • Accept help and support when offered
  • Be particularly attentive to maintaining healthy eating and sleeping patterns
  • Exercise moderately and regularly
  • Keep a journal
  • Read—there are many helpful books on grief. If grief is understood, it is easier to handle.
  • Plan, and allow yourself to enjoy some GOOD TIMES without guilt. The goal is balance.
  • Carry or wear a linking object—a keepsake that symbolically reminds you of your loss. Anticipate the time in the future when you no longer need to carry this reminder and gently let it go.
  • Tell those around you what helps you and what doesn’t. Most people would like to help if they knew how.
  • Take warm, leisurely baths
  • See a counselor
  • Get a massage regularly
  • Set aside a specific private time daily to remember and experience whatever feelings arise with the memories
  • Choose your entertainment carefully—some movies, TV shows, or books can intensify already strong feelings
  • Join a support group—there are hundreds of such groups, and people have an incredible capacity to help each other
  • Plan for ‘special days’ such as holidays or anniversaries. Feelings can be particularly intense at these times
  • Pray
  • Take a yoga class
  • Connect on the Internet. There are many resources for people in grief, as well as opportunities to chat with fellow grievers
  • Vent your anger in healthy ways, rather than holding it in. A brisk walk or a game of tennis can help.
  • Speak to a spiritual leader
  • Plant yourself in nature
  • Do something to help someone else
  • Write down your lessons. Healthy grieving will have much to teach you.


Getting Help

Allowing yourself the time to mourn is essential in finding your way back to a more positive life –do not ignore your emotions as you grieve. Get help if you are feeling any of the following:

  1. Feel like life isn’t worth living
  2. Wish you had died with your loved one
  3. Blame yourself for the loss or for failing to prevent it
  4. Feel numb and disconnected from others for more than a few weeks
  5. Are having difficulty trusting others since your loss
  6. Are unable to perform your normal

Hot Lines

National Suicide Prevention: 1-800-273-8255;

Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255;

SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357);

Contributed by Angelica Mecham

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