If you read my last blog post titled, “What is traumatic grief and how can I cope with it?” referencing the article from Funeral Basics titled, “7 Tips for coping with traumatic grief” highlighting Dr. Wolfelt’s grief counseling techniques, you may be wondering what the additional 5 coping mechanisms are.
Below highlights Dr. Wolfelt’s remaining coping mechanisms.
- Don’t run or be scared of your feelings. It is encouraged to take a mindfulness stance when experiencing your feelings around traumatic grief, which essentially means to lean into the discomfort as opposed to running away from your feelings. It is incredibly natural to experience a sense of shock and disbelief after a traumatic loss. Many times, people will even replay the events in their mind. Dr. Wolfelt recommends not to try and “be strong” but rather let yourself observe the fact you are replaying the events in your mind with a nonjudgmental stance.
- It’s okay to replay the events. Again, very natural to want to replay the traumatic event in your head. For example, if your loved one passed away in a plane crash, you may replay what the plane crash looked like. Through replaying the event, it allows you to acknowledge the reality around the idea that your loved one passed away. With facing the reality that your loved one has died, it allows your mind to truly comprehend that your loved one has died and will not be physically present again while on earth. Depending on the traumatic event, it best to only replay the event in small doses (not large doses) in order to not overwhelm yourself.
- Be mindful of PTSD symptoms. Not only do veterans experience PTSD, but individuals who may have experienced a traumatic loss may also experience symptoms of PTSD. Some common PTSD includes but is not limited to: always expecting danger, challenging for you to trust people, reoccurring nightmares, scary thoughts, anger, and high levels of anxiety. If one is exhibiting any of these symptoms, it is best to speak to a skilled professional.
- Express your thoughts and feelings. It is crucial to be able express your feelings of grief and/or trauma. Some find it most helpful to express via journaling, drawing, talking to a friend, exercising, meditating, or even talking to a grief therapist. It is important to find a way that is meaningful to your life, as not expressing your thoughts and feelings will only make the grieving process much more challenging for you. Also, not acknowledging your feelings of grief will also likely make the feelings fester and increase overtime.
- Reach out to a mental health specialist. Some people are able to cope with their traumatic grief on their own, but it just makes the process much more challenging. Others find it helpful to find support with their friends and/or family, which of course is helpful, but if they are not a trained mental health specialist, they may not be helping you in the way that could be needed, especially if you are experiencing any PTSD symptoms. Many people who have suffered a loss also find support through a support group facilitated by a therapist who specializes in grief. Also, it is important to shop around when seeking a therapist, especially if it is related to a traumatic loss. When coping with traumatic grief, you ideally want to find a therapist who not only specializes in grief, but also who is a trauma-informed therapist.
Grieving the loss of a loved one is not easy. Be gentle and kind to yourself if you are currently going through any form of grief.
If you are currently struggling grief, it may be a good idea to connect with one of our skilled counselors for grief therapy in Chicago. You can contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment.