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  • Writer's pictureBright Light Counseling Center

Everyday Loss and Grief

Updated: May 22

6 tips to cope with everyday losses and changes


by Lee Rogers


Grief and loss are a part of life’s journey. Many people associate grief and loss with the death of a loved one, a major illness, or a traumatic experience, like a car accident. These events spark a grief process, and they have social and cultural recognition; there is support offered and rituals commence.


While these losses are big and often shape our lives, there are many other losses in our lives that may spark a grief process, but are often ignored or invalidated. Ultimately loss comes from change… and change comes from choices, life transitions, and adjustments.


woman walking down the street carrying groceries

That exciting move across town means losing connection to neighbors and recalibrating your brain to a new place. You didn’t expect your anxiety to spike so much looking for something at your new grocery store, but there you are... in aisle 5... in a panic. Maybe you are going into the office more for work - it is nice to see coworkers and helpful to add structure to your weekly routine but your commute is stressful and, to be honest, you really miss your dog. Changes in health could lead to loss of independence, having to grapple with your fiercely independent self, to lean on others for help, or maybe limiting your favorite food.


For good or bad, change can shake you up inside and everyday losses can have a strong impact.


Your experience of grief is unique to you. That seemingly minor inconvenience of change in your life can really throw you for a loop. Experiencing change and coping with everyday losses and grief can do everything from increasing difficulty with concentration, struggles keeping organized and brain fog, to sleep and appetite changes, fatigue, and digestive issues. This can all lead to increased vulnerability to illness and, if you ask those around you, probably some irritability.


Losses, no matter how big or small, need and deserve space to process. Going through the 5 stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance) can feel like a bit of a mess sometimes. At times it may feel like it will always feel a certain way or never feel better but “always” and “never” don’t really exist. Remind yourself you won’t feel like this forever.


Your experience of grief is unique to you.


6 Tips to Cope with Everyday Losses and Change


Here are six things you can do to help yourself move through your grief process and get your body and brain to more normal (whatever that means to you) functioning:


person lounging on white couch

1. Name it to Tame it


Feelings are like children – they will continue to call out to you or pull on the sleeve of your shirt until you acknowledge them - often getting bigger, louder, and more painful the more that you avoid them. Sometimes just naming the feeling can help you feel better. When you are experiencing big and uncomfortable feelings like sadness, anger, or frustration, notice it and label it. Describe to yourself what you are experiencing without judgment. The act of labeling the emotion that you are feeling will allow your body and brain to begin to calm down. After you have labeled your feelings and experiences you can proceed forward, with a clearer and calmer state. There are no wrong feelings – it’s what we do with them that matters.


2. Control What You Can


When things feel out of control, control the one thing you can – yourself. Bring your attention to the choices you can make throughout the day, like what to wear or what to drink with dinner. It’s amazing what your favorite purple shirt or a cold sparkling water can do.


3. Engage in Things that Bring You Joy

people dancing


Whether it is a dance party in your kitchen with your favorite song, lunch with a friend, or getting out your coloring book... doing things that bring you joy is a great way to support yourself.




4. Stay Connected


It can be hard when we are feeling down to get out and talk with others, but it can be a great defense against those intolerable symptoms. Continuing to talk with neighbors, family, or friends, engage in cultural or religious practices, and keeping up with going to your weekly yoga class or football watch party can help you stay connected.


5. Find Meaning


There will always be loss, but where can you find meaning in this? Maybe your loss provides the opportunity to find more fulfillment in work or learn a new recipe. Celebrate and hold on to those things.


men in therapy session

6. Talk to a Professional


Processing feelings with a licensed mental health care professional can be a meaningful process. Therapy is a safe and confidential place to explore your thoughts and feelings with an unbiased professional, who can offer support and aid you in moving through your grief.


Ultimately loss comes from change… and change comes from choices, life transitions, and adjustments.

As you try new things, it can be good to remember it isn’t always going to be easy or perfect, and that’s okay. Sometimes it is about feeling better and other times it may be about not feeling worse. When you aren’t feeling motivated to do something ask yourself, “will I feel better or worse after I do this?” If you won’t feel worse give yourself a little push. Sometimes you just have to do the thing whether you’re feeling up to it or not (and sometimes our brains are really good at tricking us into thinking we will feel worse if we do it - but this usually is false).


As you make behavioral changes, I encourage you to hold on to self-compassion. It may not be realistic to change up your day to accommodate 6 new things. It is about trying some things out and seeing what works for you.


These seemingly small choices can help you turn your day around and coping with grief and loss is about taking it day by day.




Resources

Grief reactions: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507832/


The Five Stages of Grief: An Examination of the Kubler-Ross Model: https://www.psycom.net/stages-of-grief


Dan Siegel - Name it To Tame it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcDLzppD4Jc



 

Disclaimer: Our content is on and related to the topic of mental health. The content is general information that may or may not apply to you. The content is not a substitute for professional services. This website does not contain professional advice, nor is any professional-client relationship established with you through your use of this website.

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