It’s true that we never know what’s going to happen from day-to-day. Grief for a human being, a beloved pet, a lost relationship, a job loss, or a loss in any other form can be devastating. As highly sensitive people, we feel things more intensely and may experience a longer lasting period of grief and loss. Thus, it helps to have a strategy to help us through these difficult times.
Below are some strategies that helped me through difficult times.
- Don’t minimize or limit your feelings. Don’t ignore the importance of your loss or be embarrassed by it, regardless of what others think. Depending on the type of loss, you may face some people who think you’re overreacting. They may mean well, but it’s very important that you honor your own feelings. Be patient with yourself, and give yourself enough time to work through your loss. There are no time limits on your sadness.
- Reach out to people you trust. Sadness and grief turned inward are a dangerous threat to your wellbeing, so make sure that you talk about your feelings with your loved ones. Never hesitate to seek professional help if you need it.
- Feel your sadness. Cry as much, and as often, as you need to. Tears may seem unproductive, but they provide a healthy emotional release. If you don’t feel your pain, it will stay with you, buried deep and always lingering in the background.
- Take care of your body. It’s easy to neglect our physical needs when we’re consumed by sadness. Make sure you’re eating healthy food and drinking plenty of water, even if you have to force yourself to do these things. You should also make sure you get enough rest. When you’re feeling intensly stressed, stop and take conscious, deep breaths. This will naturally calm you down and give your system the oxygen it requires to function normally.
- Remember the good times. It’s very helpful to remember the good times associated with your loss, whether it be a person, pet, job loss, etc. You can always glean some “happiness nuggets” from these losses. Remembering a happy event or lessons learned will help you. If you lost a loved one, think of funny experiences you had with this person or silly, quirky things about them. Laughter may be hard at first, but it is incredibly healing.
- Journal or write down your thoughts. This has been a great strategy for me, and I think it works especially well for many highly sensitive people, since we are deep thinking and have intense inner lives. I love to write, and I find it carthartic to write down my feelings or thoughts, either for myself or to share with others. If you lost a loved one, it might help to chronicle your journey through the grieving process, or perhaps you could write a poem or song about the person you lost.
- Find a way to have closure. A proper ending or closure for your loss is a very individualized thing. It’s important that you do what’s comfortable and appropriate for you. For the loss of loved one, the start of closure is usually a funeral or a memorial service, but the real work of coping with the loss will be a long process. Give yourself all the time you need to work through your grief. A proper ending for job loss might be full acceptance of what happened, without assigning blame to yourself of anyone else, and a commitment to move forward to find a better situation.
Like many highly sensitive people, I have an especially hard time going to funerals. I sometime feel like I’ll be swallowed up by all the grief and sadness in the room! Nonetheless, I think it’s very important to go to funerals to pay the proper respect to the deceased individual and their loved ones. Although I feel drained, emotional and physically, after them, I have a good feeling that I did the right thing and offered support to those who need it most. When I’ve experienced losses myself, I know how important it is when others show how much they care and take the time to be with you as you go through this terrible experience. It really does mean a lot!
I’m not afraid to show my emotions. If I feel like crying, I do. I know there are some stereotypes that say that men shouldn’t cry, but I don’t subscribe to that at all. How could anyone think that there’s something wrong with honest tears? I find that most people understand, and it’s important to express emotions. Don’t make yourself sick by keeping your feelings inside.
How do you handle losses in your life? Do you have any strategies that have worked well for you? I’m interested in any thoughts or comments that you have.