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How to Cope with Grief

Following the recent tragedies in our community, grief is prevalent and it is vital to understand how to cope with loss in order to move on.

There are five basic stages of grief. “Denial,” says Las Lomas psychologist Mrs. Pearce, “is the first stage. Your brain just wants to pretend that it didn’t happen.” Next is anger, “because your brain is looking for something to blame.” Then comes bargaining; in other words, this stage is almost a hopeful one because the griever(s) attempt to “bargain” with something in exchange for a “fix” to the problem. Afterwards, there is sadness or depression, understandably. Finally comes acceptance – you’ve been able to move through all the stages, and then you’re able to get to a place where you understand that it happened and are better able to cope with it.

However, you “don’t necessarily go through all the stages in order,” she says. “Sometimes you can get to acceptance, and then something triggers you to be back in anger or sadness again.”

Don’t worry, though: everybody does get to a point of acceptance. It takes time, and depends on how impactful the loss was, and how many losses occurred at the same time. According to Mrs. Pearce, “everybody will eventually get to acceptance, but their timeline is different depending on those other variables.”

Coping with grief in a healthy way is important in order to accept the loss and move on. Everybody has different coping skills, like getting out to play a sport, taking a long walk with the dog, calling a friend, zoning out by coloring, or watching a ton of Netflix.

However, coping mechanisms change through the grieving process – “As you go through those stages, what works for you when you’re angry might not necessarily work for you when you’re feeling sad. Likewise, what works today might not work tomorrow. It’s good to have a full toolbox of coping skills, and try them to see what feels better.”

What are the best coping skills? “Exercise, sleep, and good, healthy eating habits are the three first coping skills that anybody should try,” says Mrs. Pearce, “as well as things that bring you enjoyment.”

Everybody will eventually get to acceptance. Just remember that, and you’re already on your way to healing.

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