5 ways of coping with grief’s rollercoaster
Trudie McConnochie interviews Marianne Bowdler from Griefline for Australian Seniors Funeral Insurance.
Even though we know we’ll lose the people we love at some point, nothing really prepares us for the emotional rollercoaster of grief. The torrent of profound sadness, the shock.
Intensifying the experience, those trying to support you may have misconceptions about grief that can be unhelpful, says Marianne Bowdler, clinical services manager at Griefline.
“People think that it’s a linear process, and people also think that it can be quite short,” she says. “You can have people saying, ‘Oh, that was three months ago – aren’t you over it by now?’ We’re all unique individuals with unique circumstances, and so our grief experience will be unique.”
Marianne shares the following tips when dealing with grief.
1. Accept all emotions
The range of emotions you might feel could take you by surprise, especially if you’re not someone who normally feels anger, for example. If you need an outlet for your emotions, you could take a creative approach. “It’s lovely to do a drawing every day,” Marianne suggests.
2. Establish new rituals
The first year of grief in particular, can be very difficult as you navigate milestones such as the first birthday, anniversary and Christmas without your loved one. Marianne says creating rituals around those events can be helpful, such as eating their favourite cake on their birthday.
“At the beginning it’s difficult, but over time, you can reach a point – it can be decades later – where you’re just so grateful that you had that lovely person in your life,” she says.
3. Manage energy levels
Adjust your expectations about what you’re capable of each day. “Grief is exhausting,” she says. “You have to be very kind to yourself and not think, why am I not achieving all of my tasks and getting everything done on my to-do list?”
4. Remember them
Fostering what Marianne calls a “continuing bond” with your loved one can be comforting. You can keep their memory alive by talking to them or writing them letters. Griefline also suggests securing a legacy in their name (such as planting a tree), creating a shrine or photo board at home dedicated to their memory, or becoming involved in a cause they loved.
5. Stay connected
While grief can be an isolating experience, Marianne says people who make an effort to stay connected to friends and family tend to navigate the process better. Griefline also offers trained counsellors. Call 1300 845 745 or visit the website Griefline
25 Apr 2023