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Overcoming Grief: 7 Steps To Healing

By Kendall Coffman, Certified Marriage and Family Therapist

Heartbreak can leave us feeling hollow and cold as well as a loss of sense of self. No one is immune from this most human experience of all – the loss of love. It can expose your most vulnerable parts, keep you in a negative emotional loop, and leave you feeling hopeless. However, it is essential that you know that you are not alone in this area. You are not “broken or damaged goods”, but on the contrary, you are a collection of all the difficult and beautiful experiences that have brought you to this precise point.

7 steps to overcome grief

The healing process varies from person to person, but self-help expert and psychotherapist Gael Lindenfield, in his book Your Pocket Guide to Self-Esteem: Boost Your Confidence; Transform your life (2021), outlines seven stages of healing that you can use as a guide on your journey to emotional recovery:

  1. Exploration
  2. Expression
  3. Comfort
  4. Compensation
  5. Perspective
  6. Pipeline
  7. Forgiveness

Keep in mind that there are no “quick fixes” to grief and loss. Yet understand where you are at healing journey can help you take a few steps forward towards your own happy ending.

Exploration

As Lindenfield (2021) points out, the first task of any healing journey is to explore the nature of your injury and to recognize what we perceive to have happened. At this point, you don’t want to spend the time and energy blaming or numbing the pain. Instead, you really want to explore the core emotional response that is happening within you. It may help to remember that you are just trying to explore your own perceptions of events and memories, and not necessarily the truth of an event. For example, notice if your response to a to break up focuses on negative self-talk and shameful language (eg, “I’m not attractive enough” or “I don’t deserve to be happy”).

Expression

Once you have explored your perception of your pain, you can naturally enter the stage of expression on your own. At this point, the key is to slowly allow yourself to feel the pain or emotion associated with the event or grief. Allow yourself to listen to that sad song in the tub or bring back old memories until you find yourself taking an active part in the shame or guilt. Express your Broken Heart; feel your feelings.

Comfort

At this point in the healing process, it is essential that you seek help from a friend, family member, or therapist. You may just need someone to hear you tell your story and be present with you, while others will need a few words of encouragement to feel comfortable. In some circumstances, you might need your friend to help you start cutting the branches that your ex-partner has grown in your life. Guy Winch said in his 2017 TedTalk titled “How to mend a broken heart”That it is crucial not to glorify or make our former partners idealized heroes. Instead, we should think about why they weren’t a good partner, and why they might not have brought happiness to your future. It’s time to delete those photos from your phone.

Compensation

Now is the time to start “catching up” with all the aches and pains and injuries that you have received or experienced up to this point. It is important to allow yourself to let go of yourself. You have the right to enjoy things. Give yourself permission to find light. Here are some examples that some of my clients have incorporated at the clearing stage:

  • Listening to “feel good” music
  • Take a long bath with candles or essential oils
  • Take a walk in the park
  • Share a bottle of wine with a friend or a group of friends
  • Make a solo appointment and offer yourself
  • Plan a trip

Perspective

At this point, you can be on your way to a healed heart. You may also be ready to start putting the heartbreaking events in perspective and allowing you to write a new ending to the story. Here are some questions you might ask yourself:

  • Did I think of the event (s) as if it was more or less significant than it actually was?
  • How can I renegotiate relationships in the future?
  • Have I given myself the same level of compassion and grace that I would give someone I love?
  • Should I spend more time in any of the previous steps?

Pipeline

As Lindenfield (2021) explains, the goal of channeling is to find constructive ways to apply the positive benefits you have gained from the emotional pain you have experienced. Some examples include

  • Implement a new relationship borders
  • Give back to your community or commitment to a group you have joined
  • Write a blog about your experience to help others

Forgiveness

Although you have reached the endgame, that does not mean that you should force a false or inauthentic act of forgiveness. This step is not only about forgiving those who have hurt you emotionally, but also forgiving yourself for the negative thoughts you have had about yourself. Forgiveness does not require you to make amends verbally with other people; you can do this step alone in your own private sacred space.

Special Notes

Use these steps as a running guide and spend time dealing with them independently or with a therapist. Healing is a complicated journey and has no schedule, so trust your instincts. In the words of Brene Brown, “you are flawed, you are ready to fight, but you are worthy of love and belonging.”

If you are feeling overwhelmed by your grief at this time of grief, or if you feel stuck in the healing process and unable to complete it, it may be time to contact a therapist. Click here to find therapists in your area who can help you.

The references:

Brown, B. (2010). The power of vulnerability. Link: https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_the_power_of_vulnerability?language=en

Lindenfield, G. (2021). Your Pocket Guide to Self-Esteem: Boost Your Confidence; transform your life. HarperCollins Publishers.

Winch, G. (2017). How to mend a broken heart. Link: https://www.ted.com/talks/guy_winch_how_to_fix_a_broken_heart?language=en






© Copyright 2021 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Publication authorization granted by, therapist in Seattle, Washington



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