How to Navigate Grief

As I’m writing this, our nation is in shock after a rash of mass shootings, including the latest incident at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. So many around our country are mourning the lives lost in these senseless killings. 

I’m reminded how very difficult the process of grieving can be. It’s such a terrible place of pain and there’s no ‘Official Manual’ on how to grieve. It’s important to remember that everyone grieves differently and, as believers, we never go through the process alone. 

Here are some tips to help you navigate the grieving process:

Be willing to accept some loneliness in your life if you’re grieving someone, especially a spouse. If possible, spend time with other people who have lost loved ones because they can help you understand what you’re going through. You may need time alone to process your loss, or you may really want to be around people as often as possible. Either way, it’s important to find a place of balance between the two.

Choose good company. Look for those who will be with you in your darkest places, and allow you the freedom to grieve as you need to at that moment. It’s so important to surround yourself with Godly men and women who will support you and pray for you as well.

Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself permission to grieve and to have good days and bad days. Don’t judge yourself as you go through this process. Allow yourself time to adjust. It may take weeks, months, or even years before you feel like your old self again. Be flexible about how you handle daily tasks and responsibilities. You might need more time than usual to accomplish certain tasks or take on new ones during this time in your life.

Get plenty of rest. Emotional and physical exhaustion are very real as you go through the grieving process.  Plan to sleep longer at night than you may be used to, and give yourself permission to take naps from time to time. Set a regular sleep schedule. Make it a goal to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Give yourself a good amount of time to rest, but be on guard for sleeping too much as a way to avoid the hard work of grieving.

Move Your Body. The tendency while we grieve is to be very sedentary. Grief can literally hurt physically as well as emotionally. Try to make time each day to move…even if it’s just a walk. Try to get outside for a few minutes of fresh air and movement. It will get the endorphins flowing and cause you to feel better.

Talk with a professional. It’s so important to be in the care of a mental health professional as you grieve. They can help you stay on a course that’s healthy, and help you get back on track if you slip. Good friends are crucial during this time, but talking to an independent therapist allows someone to speak into your grief who is trained and experienced in helping people just like you.

Embrace all emotions. You can’t control how you feel during this process, you can only control your response to your emotions. The range of feelings a person who is grieving can feel is vast…everything from sadness to anger to nostalgia to anger and almost everything in between. Identify the emotion you’re experiencing and then try to manage those feelings in a way that is reasonable. Seek professional help if you feel controlled by any one emotion.

Keep Structure in Your Day. Make sure you groom and dress even if you’re not going anywhere. And eat 3 small meals a day, even if you’re not always hungry right away. This will help keep your energy up and make sure that you don’t feel too tired or too hungry to do anything else. Try to get up and go to sleep at the same time each day. Take time for prayer and Bible study as you allow the Holy Spirit to minister to the deepest places of your soul.

Be cautious Don’t make any major decisions or changes at home or work right after you are bereaved. A good rule of thumb is to allow one year before making any major changes.  Once the first year has passed, you’ll be thinking more clearly about what the best next step is. 

If you’re in the midst of the grieving process right now, I’m so sorry you’re hurting. I want to reassure you that you are not alone as you grieve. Jesus, a “man of sorrows,” is with you right now. And as we make our way through a broken world, He is our hope.

One Response to “How to Navigate Grief”

  1. Grief, unfortunately, will come to all of our lives. I know in my time of sorrow, a verse that comforted me was Psalm 34:18 ~ The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. It was so important for me to know that God knew my pain and would see me through it. It takes a long time to heal but surrender it to the Lord and He will sustain you. And if you know someone who is grieving, let them know you’re praying for them and get together with them for a visit or a phone call. That means so much.