Finding a way to cope with grief: experts step in

We all have our own ways of dealing with grief – some mostly healthy, some not. In this emotionally compromised state, it can be difficult to discern which coping mechanisms will help you heal and which will only prolong the pain. So we contacted two well-equipped experts to guide us on this journey together.

Seek therapy

Grief therapy is a useful tool when it is started at the right time, says Paula M. Peterson, a registered clinical social worker and family therapist. “This is generally recommended in three to six months when a complainant is able to ‘hear’ and absorb the suggestions or ideas,” she says. “Concentration is not easy – just like reading, memory will pretty much go out the window for the first two months. “

Marisa Striano, Equus Certified Life Coach and Bereavement Counselor, adds that if you are starting therapy, consider group therapy a viable option. “Group therapy is the best way to overcome grief,” she says. “Grieving can be very isolating, and grievers need to stay with people who understand what they are going through. “

Seek advice from loved ones

This coping strategy looks great on paper, but there are some issues worth keeping in mind. Peterson’s concern is that advice from friends and family tends to turn into a daunting to-do list. “The best help is for the complainant to be able to talk and spit it all out, and it may take a few times to get together and rehearse and rehearse,” she explains. “A good family member or friend is a patient listener without giving advice.”

Striano echoes the fact that advice from loved ones is often given and received differently than from strangers, which is one of the reasons she is a supporter of group therapy. “It’s best to get advice from a group of people who understand your grief but don’t know you personally,” she notes.

Distance yourself from loved ones and work

On the other hand, the latter coping mechanism is often described negatively, but putting a little space between yourself and outside distractors can be incredibly helpful under the right circumstances. “If that seems ‘too much’ to you, apologize,” says Peterson. “Sure, we have to work, but we need some time alone to let out the feelings, and the workspace is often not conducive to that. It’s hard to compartmentalize emotions from one place to another.

Striano agrees that if you feel like you need a little space you should take it, but she cautions that we should be wary of the temptation to walk away for too long or too long. “It’s tricky,” she says, “because they can end up isolating themselves, which is never good in grief.

Stock up on your favorite comfort foods

While Striano says that self-soothing with something like ice cream is a good idea, it may be wise to limit yourself to just one container, as Peterson finds that, “Food is not useful – it is just a distractor and only satisfies for a short time. ”She also notes that those who cry experience a loss of appetite known as the“ diet of death, ”then maybe if you have. want something, you should indulge yourself a bit.

Finding medical remedies for bereavement

According to Peterson, “If a grieving person is really depressed, an antidepressant can help and put someone on edge. However, this is not the answer, only a tool. It should be noted that antidepressants must be prescribed by a doctor, and Striano cautions against any over-the-counter medication that claims to cure the symptoms of grief.

Get a gym membership

You may want to delay purchasing a new gym membership to feel “normal” again, as Peterson points out: “The most you can do when it comes to exercise is to walk, what if the person is a non-athlete, the endorphins will boost the mood. So unless you are sure you can make the most of the gym, just go for a walk. “It’s about balancing sensibly caring for yourself,” she adds. Striano agrees that focusing on your body is a great way to get out of your mind.

Devote yourself to a hobby

It’s not a good idea to rush into a distraction until you’ve dealt with the feelings surrounding your grief. “Hobbies are good, but later when you can concentrate better,” says Peterson. Once you get to that next step, Striano adds, “If that makes you feel better, then yes,” go learn how to weave baskets or collect vintage stamps or whatever!

Sad / emotional media frenzy

While it isn’t ideal to avoid dealing with your feelings when you are grieving, it might also not be wise to try to force it with sad movies or music. “Balance, poise, poise – (even) laughter can make you cry when you’re very emotional,” says Peterson.

The way Striano sees it, using the media to trigger an emotional response works as a last resort. “Sometimes grief can be a purse, and we can carry it with us for the day,” she explains. “Sometimes it feels like you have wheeled luggage, it’s bulky but handy. Then there are the days when grief feels like a steamboat trunk so heavy it can’t be moved. This is when it helps to binge on movies that make you cry.

Adopt a pet or buy something frivolous

Striano wisely thinks that a little retail therapy is good “only if it doesn’t hurt you financially”. As for the adoption of a new pet, it is much more on board: “Puppies are pure happiness and unconditional love! In addition, grief can take care of a soul in need. Puppies don’t judge and they are great for drying tears.

Peterson takes a more critical view of each of these coping strategies. “Adopting a pet or buying something frivolous and fun is a band-aid,” she warns. “You have to go through the pain of grief, not jump over it. It takes time and takes care of yourself.

Create a task list for recovery

Although healing takes place throughout the grieving process, Striano is quick to note that there is unfortunately no complete recovery from grief. “There is no such thing as mourning recovery. Dealing with grief is the language used, ”she says. “Grief lasts the lifetime of the survivor. Grievers carry their loss with them every day, no matter how long it has been since they have lost someone.

As for building a to-do list, Peterson says, “Writing down a to-do list will be helpful when memory doesn’t serve the grieving person and life seems confusing. She adds, “The most important thing to do is to be kind and considerate to yourself and to share with safe and loving listeners. It is important work that must be done, not just ignored.

Those seeking grief support can turn to East End organizations such as Northwell Health Hospice Care Network (, Cope Foundation (, East End Hospice (, The Neighborhood House ( and Marisa (

About Bradley J. Bridges

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