The idea of planning to grieve might seem very odd to most readers. When we say you need to plan to grieve, we don’t mean that we all need to keep in mind that horrible things happen, and we need to always be prepared for them. What we mean is that when someone close to you has died, or even someone you didn’t know particularly well yet the death hit you quite hard, you need to allow yourself to grieve. For many, though, it might be difficult. It might feel that there are too many people depending on you, you can’t take time away from work physically or mentally, you just don’t know how to grieve and still keep going. One thing you can do is to plan your grief and to plan things that will help you grieve.
Unfortunately, there is no cookie-cutter solution for how you should grieve or how much time you need to take. One sure thing, though, is that you should allow yourself to grieve and feel the pain and confusion of losing someone. Grief is also not just reserved for when a loved one passes away, you can feel loss for many things in life like a promotion you worked really hard for and didn’t get, a friendship that came to an end, etc. We have some suggestions that might help you:
Journal with intent
Journaling is a useful activity in many situations and it’s no wonder so many people do it on a regular basis. When you journal with intent, it means you are trying to work through a specific situation and specific feelings.
There are no rules as to what a journal entry should look like. Some days you might just have a lot of emotions that you need to get rid of and writing them down can help. It can be as simple as saying, “Today I am angry because…” and then writing out your anger. You might want to write a more formal letter, or it might feel strange writing a letter in a book that no one is going to read. There are many different entries you can try and not every entry has to look the same. The important thing is that you help yourself feel the emotions that you try to keep in the rest of the day. That is why we also suggest finding a quiet spot where you can be alone while you write, and you allow yourself to feel the grief inside you.
Grieving is often a private emotion, but when we mention planning private time for your grief, we mean planning enough time in your day to, for example, take a long hot shower/bath and allowing yourself to cry. Crying is a positive activity in this regard as it is one of the ways in which the body is able to let go of the emotions that crop up. It is the body’s way to self-soothe and emotional tears also release oxytocin and endorphins which is why you often feel better after a good cry with a bit less physical and emotional pain.
Another way to plan your grieving is to prepare everything you need for memory notes.
Have a jar with slips of paper next to it. When you remember something, you admired or loved about the person you lost, write it down and add it to the jar. You can also add things that frustrated you, yet it brings a smile to your face. When memories like these pop up, there isn’t necessarily someone to share them with, but you don’t want them to just pass by either. This is a way to help you cherish the memory. In a years’ time, you can go through the jar again and honour your loved one’s memory.
It is normal to want to be alone during your grief. However, having a select group of friends or family to support you through the process is beneficial. You can ask your best friend, for example, to have a cup of coffee with you because you want to talk to someone about your departed loved one or just because you are feeling particularly alone and fragile. It is not selfish to want or need that. It is, actually, quite normal. Having a support system of close friends and family with whom you can share that and whom you can trust will help you grieve in a healthy way.
Suffering a massive loss is difficult, but when grieving is also particularly difficult for you, planning it could help. Whatever you choose to do, remember to let yourself feel what you need to, so you don’t get stuck in an unhealthy mental and emotional space.