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Tips for coping with grief

February 3, 2015 General Wellness By Marcia Hochberg, PhD

Grief is defined as the emotional suffering we feel when someone or something has been taken away. Although it is typically associated with the death of a loved one, we can experience grief after any kind of loss, such as a divorce, layoff, miscarriage or disability. Grief can be difficult to deal with, and rightfully so. However, if you're grieving, there are a few things to remember:

There is no timeline

When you're grieving, it's helpful to remember that there isn't a time frame for grieving and that everyone grieves differently. Don't be worried if your grieving period is longer, shorter or more or less intense than someone else's.

Seek support from others

Some may find it helpful to seek out a local support group to connect with others who are dealing with the stress and emotional factors of grieving. Others may turn to friends and family. Keep in mind that, although your loved ones may not say the right words or do the right thing, their intentions are good. Ask for what you need, whether it's a chance to cry, someone to go out to coffee with, or help with tasks that are new to you.

If you are a member of a religious faith, your traditions may offer comfort. If the death of your loved one makes you question your beliefs, talk to your clergy or to others who share your faith.

Write it out

Consider writing your feelings out in a journal or in the form of a letter to your loved one. If it would be helpful, create a photo album of your loved one’s life.

Make yourself a priority

Don’t forget to take care of yourself.  Pay attention to the basics, like eating right, getting enough sleep and exercising.

Even with these measures, you may find that you are unable to manage your grief effectively. If you feel that it is causing significant emotional distress, impairing your ability to function, or causing you to pursue unhealthy behaviors, consider professional help. Main Line Health's behavioral health services include psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers and licensed professional counselors.

Marcia Hochberg, PhD is a psychologist with Bryn Mawr Rehab Psychology Associates.