How do you cope with loss and grief?

by | Aug 22, 2022 | Emotional Intelligence, Personal Development, Relationships (Self and Others)

If you follow me on social media, you likely already know why you haven’t heard from me for over a month. We lost our mom on 2 August. Technically, Agnes was my mom-in-law, but she referred to me as the daughter she’d always wished for. I was blessed to have her as my second mom for almost 13 years. Our relationship was one of the best of my life. Seeing her with my husband and grandchildren brought me indescribable joy. She was unapologetically herself, loved getting lost on long walks, cooked up a storm and was known for pranking the kids. She is sorely missed! Losing her has been one of the biggest losses of my life. So, I thought it was apt that I talk about grief and dealing with loss because, if we are blessed to have had deep love, we are all either dealing with or going to deal with loss at some point. I hope I can support you on your own journey and allow you to keep taking Key Steps to… 

‘be the difference that makes the difference.
 

  1. Be patient and gentle with yourself. Two weeks ago, I honestly just couldn’t find it in me to write anything to you. I always write from the heart and my heart just wasn’t ready. I let that be okay. I knew you would understand, and I needed that time. Take the time you need because it is important to… 
  2. Allow yourself to feel your feelings. Know that whatever you are feeling – sadness, anger, numbness, emptiness, relief – is very normal. Don’t try and rationalise it. Feelings are not logical. I feel like I have been in a “washing-machine of emotions” that keep cycling. This is common. Sometimes I am deeply sad, then I feel a bit numb, even disconnected from my life and reality (like I am in a bad dream that I should wake up from) and then sad all over again. This is normal. If numbness persists for prolonged periods of time, it can be a cause for concern. In the early stages, when you are still in shock, numbness or emptiness is typical so just allow what is and… 
  3. Know that grief is like riding waves. You won’t feel the intensity of sadness, despair, numbness or anger forever. If you reach a point where you are feeling ‘good’ only to feel ‘bad’ again, it’s not a sign that you’ve relapsed or gotten worse. This is how grief works, and it is actually forward movement. Although it is normal to not want to be in pain, it is important to find safe ways to deal with your feelings and not run from them so… 
  4. Surround yourself with supportive people. The pain of grief is hard enough without having people tell you how you should be feeling or what they think you should be doing. You want a non-judgemental, supportive group around you who can be with you and allow you to process. An empathetic shoulder and ear are very healing because it allows you to…
  5. Talk about and remember your loved one. Talking about and remembering your loved one is very healthy and healing. Avoiding it because you are worried you will break down, perhaps worried about embarrassing yourself or burdening others, just prolongs your process and can result in complicated grief. To honour and remember Agnes, we light a candle every evening and place it next to a beautiful photo of her. We talk to her. Mila – who is four and the youngest granddaughter – blows kisses to heaven. When tears break through, allow them and also…
  6. Find comfort in familiar routines. We spent four days next to Agnes’ bedside. We were with her when she passed. Although it was a relatively brief time, our lives stood still, and all routines were abandoned. Getting back to regular exercise, work, mealtimes, sleep times and so on was comforting. Just remember to…
  7. Pace yourself. Grief is exhausting. I was able to cut back on some of my work and shift out some coaching sessions to create the breathing and rest time needed. Honour what you need and…
  8. Allow yourself to keep living and have a little fun. Soon after our loss, I ran two masterclasses to over 40 leaders. It felt good to be doing work I love and to know think that Agnes might be looking on and seeing that I am not sitting around just mourning her – it was the last thing she wanted. As you read this, we are in London with our son. This trip was planned many months ago so we could celebrate his birthday with him. Agnes would be proud and happy we continued with this trip. Yes, we are going to feel sad while we are there, but we will feel happy and have fun too. If you are struggling to feel any sense of happiness or hope… 
  9. Consider reaching out to a professional. You are not alone. There are amazing doctors, therapists and support groups you can reach out to. Grief can feel like depression and even lead to depression. Be honest with yourself if you feel you are not coping. I work regularly with my therapist and, although I feel like I am coping, I am so glad she is there and is – no doubt – part of the reason I am coping and able to…
  10. Realise that grief can bring about meaning. While you never get over the loss of a loved one (and I know that I honestly wouldn’t want to) because the loss is a reflection of your love, it can bring about meaning. It can be an opportunity for reflection, reassessment of priorities, changes in behaviour and so on. Loss has enormous potential to provide growth. I can already see a number of Key Steps that we are taking as a family to…

 

‘be the difference that makes the difference.’ 

 

I hope the above points can support and hold you in times of your own loss and grief.


Namaste,

NOTE: The information in my blog may be freely shared and re-used in any online or offline publication, provided it is accompanied by the following credit line: This was written by Dr Sharon King Gabrielides, and originally appeared in her free weekly  ‘Key Steps Food for Thought Blog’ available on the Key Steps website.


Dr Sharon King Gabrielides

About Dr Sharon King Gabrielides

Sharon is a dynamic facilitator, speaker and executive coach with over 25 years’ experience in leadership development and organisational transformation. Her PhD thesis contributed a framework for holistic and sustainable leadership development that was published by Rutgers University in the USA. She is faculty of numerous business schools and highly sought-after by leading corporates because she works hand-in-hand with them to create sustainable results and long-term success. In 2020, Sharon was inducted into the Educators Hall of Fame, which is a lifetime achievement award, recognising excellence and her contribution to the field.
 

Sharon is one of only three women in South Africa to have achieved the title of
Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) – the Oscar of the speaking industry. She is also a COMENSA Master Practitioner (CMP), a qualified Modern Classroom Certified Trainer (MCCT™) and an accredited Global Virtual Speaker. Sharon is also a registered Education, Training and Development Practitioner (ETDP), holds an Honours degree in Psychology and practices as an NLP master practitioner.

Most important to Sharon is that she has become known for her genuinely caring manner, practical and transformational approach, and for providing valuable tools and that allow people to take Key Steps to really… ‘be the difference that makes the difference.’

 

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Namaste,

 

NOTE: The information in my blog may be freely shared and re-used in any online or offline publication, provided it is accompanied by the following credit line: This was written by Dr Sharon King Gabrielides, and originally appeared in her free bi-weekly  ‘Key Steps Food for Thought Blog’ available on the Key Steps website.

Dr Sharon King Gabrielides, EQ Expert, Founder and CEO

Sharon is a dynamic facilitator, speaker and executive coach with over 25 years’ experience in leadership development and organisational transformation. Her PhD thesis contributed a framework for holistic and sustainable leadership development that was published by Rutgers University in the USA. She is faculty of numerous business schools and highly sought-after by leading corporates because she works hand-in-hand with them to create sustainable results and long-term success. In 2020, Sharon was inducted into the Educators Hall of Fame, which is a lifetime achievement award, recognising excellence and her contribution to the field.

Sharon is one of only three women in South Africa to hold the title of Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) – the Oscar of the speaking industry. She is also a COMENSA Master Practitioner (CMP), a qualified Modern Classroom Certified Trainer (MCCT™) and an accredited Global Virtual Speaker. Sharon is also a registered Education, Training and Development Practitioner (ETDP), holds an Honours degree in Psychology and practices as an NLP master practitioner.

Most important to Sharon is that she has become known for her genuinely caring manner, practical and transformational approach, and for providing valuable tools and that allow people to take Key Steps to really… ‘be the difference that makes the difference.’