What To Do If You're Feeling Overwhelmed By Loss Right Now, From A Grief Expert

mbg Editorial Assistant By Jamie Schneider
mbg Editorial Assistant
Jamie Schneider is the Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen with a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan. She's previously written for Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
young black woman looking depressed and sad

Dealing with loss—no matter what kind—is no easy feat. And while the grief never truly goes away, it does oftentimes appear in ebbs and flows. Some days might be easier than others—and that's completely OK. The most important thing is to know you're not alone in the struggle. 

But for those particularly difficult days when the grief feels overwhelming, bestselling author and grief expert David Kessler offers some tips to help you wade through the hard-hitting emotions. As he shares on the mindbodygreen podcast, "We grieve for the rest of our lives, but that doesn't mean we're always going to be in pain."

Discover your go-to emotions. 

First and foremost, Kessler says it can be helpful to discover which emotions signal your underlying grief. It differs for everyone: For some, it might be sadness or despair; for others, it's fear. As for Kessler? He tends to feel anger: "Anger is pain's bodyguard," he says. "I have to remind myself if I'm starting to feel anger, it means I'm in pain." Whatever your specific go-to emotions are, try to dig a little deeper and figure out whether those emotions are your telltale signs of grief. 

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And let those feelings happen.

Once you've identified your emotions as grief, the best thing to do is to have compassion for yourself in those moments. Essentially, "Try to let yourself have a bad day," Kessler notes. 

Which, we admit, is a lot easier than it sounds. After all, according to Kessler, we're hardwired by society to "have feelings about our feelings." He explains, "We feel angry, but we shouldn't be angry. We feel sad, but we've got no right. So we stuff down these feelings, and we have all these feelings that get half-felt." Only when you suppress those emotions, he adds, they tend to pressure-cook in your body and become even more difficult to deal with in the long run.

That said, even though it might feel painful in the moment, try to embrace those feelings of grief. When you truly let those emotions run their course, Kessler says they should move through you in a few minutes. It makes sense: When you suppress those emotions, they're going to bubble up at some point. As Kessler notes, "If you've got 1,000 tears to cry, you're not going to stop at 99." It's only a matter of when those tears eventually show up. So if you can, it's best to experience those feelings all in one go, even though it feels painful, rather than facing a roller coaster of grief later on. 

The takeaway.

If you're feeling overwhelmed by loss right now, one of the best things you can do is to simply let those emotions run their course. While there's no tried-and-true way to completely "overcome" grief, embracing the feelings you have and staying compassionate with yourself can help you move through the different stages—whatever they look like for you.

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