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While grief is often associated with death, it may come in many different forms. In fact, grief is associated with a sense of loss. It might be realizing that you lost your innocence as a child, losing a job, losing a routine, losing a friend, or moving away, to name a few. Losing something or someone doesn’t only mean that we have lost that person or thing; it is also means that we lost what we had hoped for the future. Furthermore, grief can present itself in many different forms, which includes sadness and yearning, anger, disbelief, confusion, difficulty concentrating, and many others. There are no right or wrong way to experience grief. Symptoms can vary from one person to the next and can be very difficult to experience. Not only that, but you may be faced with constant reminders of your loss, which makes it all the more difficult as there is no knowing when a wave of grief will come. Knowing what your triggers are might help prepare for them, such as planning to take a day off from work, advising your support so they can be there for you, etc. However, processing grief takes time, and cannot be forced or rushed. Remember that grief has no specific time table.

Nonetheless, there are many ways to process grief. It is important, if possible, to allow yourself to feel the waves of grief when they come. While staying busy and avoiding it might be a helpful tool in the short run, avoiding it doesn’t make it go away. In fact, avoiding it can intensify it in the long run, and grief can stick around until it is processed. While grief can be very painful, allowing yourself to feel it can help process it. While the pain experienced may encourage us to hide and disconnect from people, connecting with a beloved friend, family member or partner can help reduce isolation and release the grief while being supported. If this doesn’t feel possible, some people might prefer turning to a particular faith, support group or therapist. Remember to not let anyone tell you how you feel. Grief is very personal and it is important to allow yourself to feel what is present and be gentle with yourself. Since it is so personal, it is important not to compare yourself with others. In fact, many factors influence it, such as the closeness with the deceased person, personal history, the meaning of the loss, personal relationship to grief and loss, etc.

Another way to process the grief is to journal. There are different methods that can be utilized, including simply writing what is on your mind. You could also write about your experience as if you were talking to a friend. One specific technique related to grief is to write a letter about the loss. This can look differently depending on what the loss is. For example, if you lost a specific person, you could write a letter to them, pouring out what you would have liked to tell them when they were alive. This could include how much they meant to you, what you loved about them, how you felt toward them, what hopes you had for the future, and what you wished would have been different. As for a loss of a job for example, you could write a letter that explains how you feel about losing your job, what you lost, how you wish things would have been different, what that job meant to you, and anything else that comes to mind. Writing a letter can help connect to the loss and release emotions. 

You may want to set specific times of the day where you face your grief. You could choose to journal between a specific time, or look at a picture of the beloved person and talk about your memories to a friend, put on some soft music that helps you connect with your emotions, meditate, draw what you are feeling or sing it out loud. Some people like to use drumming, rituals, or create memory books to process grief. Setting a specific time to feel the grief helps your body know that there will be a specific time that allows expression of the grief. You can also explore where your body holds the grief, by noticing which part of your body you feel it in and what sensations are there. It is also important to take care of your body as you grieve, by exercising and eating foods that nurture your body. Remember to be patient and kind with yourself as you work through the grief.

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