7 Ways to Deal With Grief
I recently shared that I had a miscarriage in February, and it is easily one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through. I have since had countless women reach out to me who are going through something similar, and I thought it would be helpful to share 7 Ways To Deal With Grief that have been helpful throughout my personal journey toward healing.
Of course, everyone is different when it comes to dealing with grief. What works for one person may not necessarily work for another. In addition, I am not a mental health professional, nor am I claiming to be. Like I mentioned, I’m just sharing what has worked well for me.
Experiencing devastating losses (and other challenges life throws our way) can help you recognize how good (or not) you are at coping during tough times and/or how strong your support network is. I hope these tips will help you navigate whatever you are going through, too. And please remember, you are NOT alone.
how do you deal with grief?
This season of life has been extremely challenging and full of fear, doubt and sadness; however, I am proud of the way I have dealt with it thus far.
I have repeatedly described this experience as an “emotional roller-coaster”, and I think that is true of all kinds of grief. Sometimes it just hits you when you least expect it, even when you thought you were having a “good”, or at least better, day.
Thankfully, I am at a place in my life where I have several healthy and productive coping strategies in place to help me be more resilient, not to mention an incredible support network of close family and friends. Above all else, I have a God who loves me so much.
why do we turn to food for comfort?
Emotional eating is something that gets talked about a lot, almost always as a negative thing, so I wanted to touch on it a bit.
Have I emotionally eaten a few times during this grieving process? Yes. Maybe some days I had more sweets than I normally would have, or made less healthy choices than what is typical for me; however, for the most part, I haven’t done a ton of this.
I know that food is only a temporary solution, so I have tried to continue eating in a way that helps me feel my best both physically and mentally. However, at times, food actually did make me feel a little better, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.
If you have eaten emotionally A LOT while dealing with grief or anxiety, please, give yourself grace. Breathe, in and out. And know that it is possible to lessen this and adopt other behaviors that will provide more comfort in the short and long-term.
Emotionally eating at times is completely normal, and it is okay. If that is your ONLY coping mechanism, however, this is when it becomes an issue.
I would encourage you to try to implement some other strategies to help you deal and sort through your feelings right now, rather than trying to numb them solely with food.
Here’s what has helped me cope during this tough time, not necessarily in this order:
ways to deal with grief: turn to God
I know that not everyone is a believer or Christ follower, but if you are, I believe that grief is a great time to turn to God (even more so than usual).
I’ve been doing so more and more since the morning I found out I was pregnant, to the day I found out my pregnancy was no longer progressing, throughout my miscarriage process, and still one month later. As we begin to navigate this next chapter of life, I will continue to lean on Him.
The hardest, yet most incredible, thing I’ve had to learn to embrace in all of this is that we don’t have total control over our lives, what happens to us and why.
He does, and He always has a purpose for it. Sometimes it is difficult to see the purpose at the time, but usually, it all makes sense later on. His timing is perfect and His plan is better than ours.
I have been reading and loving my daily devotional, Jesus Calling, as well as this devotional specifically for women after pregnancy loss, Loved Baby.
Someone sent me this passage: “Let me emphasize that trusting God does not mean we do not experience pain. It means we believe that God is at work through the occasion of our pain for our ultimate good.”
ways to deal with grief: meditation and mindfulness
To be completely honest, I have never been big into meditation in my life. However, when I was pregnant it was a different story. During my pregnancy, I struggled with anxiety almost every day.
Having a miscarriage was my biggest fear, but at the time, I didn’t think that would actually be my story. To help me refocus my thoughts on something else, calm me down, and often times help me fall asleep, I used the Headspace app to do 5-10 minute guided meditations.
I personally just used the free version and got by okay with that, but have definitely considered purchasing the paid version and committing to spending more time meditating since I have seen and felt the benefits of it.
I have also heard good things about the app “Calm”, but as of now, have only personally tried Headspace. I’m sure YouTube has lots of great options, too.
If you have never given meditation a shot, I would encourage you to try it out. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. It isn’t just about sitting cross-legged and saying “ohhhmmm”. Ethan actually enjoyed it, too, and found it to be calming before bed.
Besides that, simply being mindful of your emotions is important. Unfortunately, I am someone who can easily get sucked into a black hole of negativity when something happens in my day to make me feel mad or sad.
I’m working on being aware of when that is happening and doing my best to lift myself out of it (using some of these other strategies) so I don’t waste all of my days, or weeks, feeling this way and bringing down the people around me who are trying to help.
Someone sent me this passage as well: “To keep praying with positive expectation requires a lot of effort and perseverance; giving up is momentarily easier. However, a resigned, I-give-up attitude is always hurtful in the long run. Often, this leads to cynicism– and eventually to despair. So it’s well worth the effort to keep your hopefulness alive”.
ways to deal with grief: feel your feelings
In the beginning, I was struggling SO much, understandably so. I had no hope and was just overwhelmed with feelings of sadness and emptiness. Those “why me?” thoughts and feelings kept creeping in.
Obviously I am still sad and disappointed, but things are slowly getting better, one day at a time. I have reminded myself over and over and over throughout this process that it’s okay not to be okay, yet.
This is not a normal or pleasant thing to go through. You HAVE to feel your feelings in order to be able to eventually move on, rather than burying them deep down inside.
Let yourself cry. Let yourself be sad, angry, confused, pissed — whatever you need to feel. It’s okay to be sad, but it’s important to also have hope and try to look forward. We can’t live in the darkness forever.
For those of you who are also suffering from miscarriage: it’s okay to feel sad or mad or jealous when you see other pregnancy announcements, because you will, and already have I’m sure.
Every time I see one, I get a pit in my stomach, a lump in my throat and tears sting my eyes. I temporarily go back to that “why not me?” feeling.
It’s okay to be so genuinely happy for others who are expecting, and simultaneously feel so, so sad for yourself. But try to look at those other women and be happy and hopeful, because many of them have previously experienced loss, too, and now they are expecting their rainbow baby.
Someday, that will be us.
ways to deal with grief: lean on others
I want you to know that you do not have to suffer in silence.
I know that sharing your story can be SO hard. Being vulnerable and letting others in is scary, especially when you can barely sort through your own thoughts and feelings. I know that you don’t want to burden other people with your problems.
But guess what? The people who love you the very most want nothing more than to be there for you when you are hurting. And they can’t do that if you don’t let them in.
Leaning on my people has been HUGE for me in my healing process.
Once all of this was unfolding and I officially knew that my pregnancy was not progressing, Ethan and I made the decision to tell our close family and friends.
It was important to me that they knew we were hurting, because I knew they would rally around us and pray for us, and I 1000% needed that comfort. I’m not ashamed to say that I need the support of others.
I couldn’t imagine going through this alone, and luckily I don’t have to. I’m blessed and beyond thankful to have the support network that I do.
If you have loved ones that don’t know what you’re going through yet, I want to encourage you to let them in, when you feel ready. I’m positive you will be happy you did.
ways to deal with grief: exercise vs. rest
Exercise and rest are obviously opposites but I want to address them together.
Exercise has always been important to me and a great way to manage and reduce stress in my life. At times during my pregnancy, I found exercise helpful. However, I also found it equally (if not more) helpful to let myself rest.
Sometimes I needed to let my body *and mind* just chill, especially when I was already feeling super fatigued or anxious. I didn’t put pressure on myself to make it to the gym “x” number of times per week. Try to do the same.
Believe it or not, there are times when exercise is NOT the healthiest choice for you physically or mentally. Especially during the miscarriage process, all I needed was rest, and I honored that, which I’m proud of.
The gym will be waiting for you when you are ready to return. Don’t rush yourself back into a “routine” or behaviors that you’re not ready for. Continue to let yourself feel your feelings, and take the steps you need to heal first and foremost. Your mental health is priority during this time.
Allow yourself to engage in exercise that is lower impact if you want to move but aren’t ready for your “normal” workouts. Walking is fantastic. Stretching is also great. Try some restorative yoga.
Give yourself time to heal — especially if you had a miscarriage or loss after pregnancy and are still physically recovering.
ways to deal with grief: express yourself
Find a creative outlet — what does that look like for you?
For me, it was writing. The day I found out I was pregnant I started journaling. Partly because I wanted to write down everything I was thinking & feeling and be able to look back on it one day, but as things progressed over the next few weeks, I started to find writing really therapeutic.
I think I will eventually share excerpts of that that I think could be helpful for others, or just that I want to share because they make me happy. Although things didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to, I am thankful I have some of the really happy and special moments documented, like when I told Ethan.
Journaling was a great outlet for me when I felt like I couldn’t (or didn’t want to) talk to anyone else. You might express yourself differently.
Maybe you would enjoy doing adult coloring books, or talking out loud to others (even a therapist), or singing, listening to music, etc. Having a creative outlet helped me a lot.
So do some digging and figure out what might be helpful for you! Maybe you could start with journaling, too.
ways to deal with grief: see a therapist/counselor
I know that there is still some stigma around mental health and “needing help”, but thankfully, this is getting better and better all the time. People are less afraid to talk about depression and anxiety and going to therapy. This is amazing.
In case you’re feeling ashamed of needing to talk to a professional: don’t. There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
This is hard shit. The emotions that come after loss are overwhelming. It’s okay if you need an outside party to help you process it all. It’s okay if your friends and family aren’t enough. They might want so badly to be there for you, but not know what to say. That isn’t their fault or yours.
A mental health professional who is trained in helping people cope during these tough times can make a massive difference for you.
I personally have not sought help from a professional yet; however, I have definitely not ruled it out. I think it is a great thing to keep in mind if these other strategies don’t seem to be helping after a period of time.
There is no set timeline or steps you must follow when dealing with grief. Everyone is different.
Also, keep in mind that not all therapists are the same. You may not connect with the first therapist you see (or at least, not immediately). It may require visiting a few before you find someone who you connect with, or giving it a few sessions.
One session is not enough to help you heal, and you shouldn’t necessarily stop going when you feel “better”. Ongoing support and knowing what you need is important.
resources for dealing with grief
I asked my Instagram followers to share some resources that they found helpful during times of grief. I am sharing some books and podcasts that came recommended below.
All of the following books are linked on my Amazon Affiliate page under “books”:
Click here to visit my Amazon page.
- Loved Baby – Devotionals from Women After Pregnancy Loss
- It’s Okay Not To Be Okay
- Hannah’s Hope
- The Bible
- Dead Mom’s Club
- Tear Soup
- Born To Shine
- Daily Prayer Journal
- Jesus Calling
- Everything is Figureoutable
- Brene Brown books
- It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way
- I Will Carry You
- When Things Fall Apart
- Man’s Search For Meaning
- Losing A Loved One, Finding Yourself, Voices of Hope
Podcasts on Grief:
- Terrible, Thanks For Asking
- Yoga To Cope
- Nora Mcinerny
- Brene Brown
“this too shall pass”
I always think of the quote that my mom has said to me many times in my life: “this too shall pass”. She has always been right. I know that this will pass. The pain will subside, mostly, but not completely, and the future will be brighter.
Good things will come.
The sermon at church recently had a perfect message. The pastor said: “What if God’s greatest blessings come from God’s greatest breakings?”
My heart is absolutely broken right now. But I know that there are blessings coming. And they will be so, so good. I just have to keep looking forward and take it one day at a time.
Thinking of and praying for anyone out there who is hurting.
I hope that these 7 Ways To Deal With Grief will be helpful for you. If you have any other suggestions, please free reach to leave them in the comments below.
Thanks for mentioning that you can tell your level of coping skills by experiencing an overwhelming loss. My cousin is considering looking for grief counseling services because her mother passed away last month unexpectedly and she cannot focus at work or school. I think it’s wise for my cousin to contemplate seeing a reputable professional that can help learn how to cope with her loss so that she can start to feel better again.
I absolutely agree with you. I think everyone can benefit from seeing a counselor or therapist at some point in life, but especially after a life-altering loss like that. I believe she would find it so helpful! Prayers for her as she continues to mourn and grieve this loss.
It was mentioned that a therapist is trained to help people cope during tough times. My sister recently lost her newborn baby and the grief has been almost more than she can bear. I wonder if she has thought about speaking with a grief therapist to see if they can help her get through these tough times.
I think that would be a great idea. Therapy is so beneficial in all seasons of life, but especially while going through something as devastating as that. I am so sorry for her loss. I am 31 weeks pregnant now and truly cannot imagine how she must be feeling. Prayers for her and her family.
I love your article Shanna, great post!
Losing a loved one is a difficult thing to go through. The process of grieving that comes after the loss of a loved one is particularly not an easy road.
You may also read my blog on Ways to Cope with Grief and Loss
Hope this will help…
Thank you so much — I appreciate you sharing your resources as well!