Whether we want it to be or not, grief is a part of life. At some point, we will all be faced with grief. Whether that's grieving over the loss of a loved one, the end of a relationship, the loss of a dream, a lost job or opportunity, a beloved pet, or even grieving a political landscape like many are these days.
So when grief arrives at your doorstep, how do you meet it with grace?
The biggest moment of grief for me was when my dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. It was incredibly traumatic for me -- the most traumatic thing that has happened to me thus far in my life. He survived (which I thank God for every day), but at the time, my family and I had to cope with grief while we were going through it. We had to cope with all of the fear, worry, and uncertainty in real-time.
The way we got through it was together (and with the help of a few coping mechanisms). If you're currently grieving or know someone who is, I hope the following coping mechanisms provide you with a bit of relief, support, and grace.
1. Surround yourself with loved ones
Connect with loved ones that are open, optimistic, and supportive. (And the ones who just like to have a good time!) When you're feeling stressed or unhappy, it's easy to want to retreat and be alone during these times. And yet, it really helps to surround yourself with people when you're up for it to boost your spirits and remind you that you're not alone.
2. Find reasons to laugh
Humor always, always helps when working through grief or disappointment. Find a reason to laugh during the hard times, the uncomfortable times, and everything else in between. A true belly laugh can often feel like medicine.
3. Embrace being vulnerable
When working through my own grief in my life, sharing my experience was really important to me, and it helped a lot. It didn't matter so much what someone else's response was but that I had the chance to share and get things out into the open. Whether it was crying in the kitchen to my mom at midnight or calling a friend to vent, it always felt relieving to have somewhere to turn to feel heard.
4. Take care of yourself
Even though there may be a lot going on, and disappointment may feel heavy, self-care is still essential. Self-care can feel like a warm hug every time. Find ways to self soothe like journaling, taking a bath, going for a long walk, meditating, or praying (if you have a spiritual practice). Give yourself permission to carve out space for this and find what feels good to you (it can--and often does--look different for everyone). This is also a great way to pull yourself away from what's stressing you out or worrying you.
5. Embrace little indulgences
For me, we would go get wine and cheese boards at a restaurant down the street from the hospital. I’ll never forget those moments. It made me feel a bit of normalcy by being out in public and indulging in something sweet. And even though I really wanted to stay home at the time, my parents forced me to take some time away. So I also traveled to Europe mid-treatment with friends. I've never laughed so hard on that trip, and it ended up being one of the greatest friend trips I’ve ever had. Indulge, we did, and I came back feeling stronger.
While these five coping mechanisms worked well for me, there may be others that work well for you. Know that, whatever you're going through will be hard, but there are ways to make it a little easier. It's okay not to be okay right now, and it's also okay to try and soften those feelings. However you soften, please remember: you are strong, you are brilliant, and you will get through this.