If you on a grief journey, this post is for you. First and foremost recognize that you are a unique human being and your grief and coping mechanisms are different. Expected stages of grief, self-diagnoses and societal expectations don’t matter. Everyone has rational, emotional and creative sides that create a variety of personalities and call for different grief tools. There is no cookie cutter approach. Grief can suppress your creativity or make you irrational. Recognize it.
It helps to be sympathetic when others try to comfort you and themselves - everyone copes with grief differently. Learn to give yourself and others a break. You will experience many different emotions that will change constantly when being on your grief journey. It can be overwhelming. Let different emotions flow, don't suppress them. Read other people's experiences, reflections and memoirs to understand your emotions better and identify with others. You can express your feelings through drawings, photography and crafts. Creative tools, art and play therapy can be really helpful.
If your grief doesn't conform to 5 stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance), it can be confusing. Get a good overview of different grief theories to identify with one. Different types of losses can impact your grief experience. Search specific tools for your type of loss. Find online and in-person support groups and resources if you want to share with others your experience and understand your grief better.
Have a plan in advance for holidays and anniversaries when grieving. Slow down, be present, look at your life and be grateful for what you have. Find one thing you're grateful for each day and reflect on it. Write in a gratitude journal before going to bed. There is no normal. Embrace what works for you. Don't expect to follow a certain timeline. Find your way to express your grief and connect with others.
Use positive affirmations like “I will open my heart and trust that, in ways I do not now understand, my loved one will continue to be present in my life.”