Many people in this country today are in mourning and it’s very real. I’ve been a therapist specializing in grief for a decade and in that time I’ve seen our country grieve together on many occasions. But none so pronounced as this.
Last night as I sat watching the returns with friends, my phone began pinging with texts and emails from my clients. “I understand grief on a new level,” one read. Another said he felt personally responsible for the outcome. Yet a third said her sadness over the election results was reigniting the grief over the loss of her mother.
If you are feeling similarly you are not alone. Loss comes in many forms and the feelings surrounding this one are legitimate. Here are some things you can do to cope.
1. Allow yourself to feel everything you are feeling. The only way out of grief is through it. Once you fully accept that you are affected by this loss then you can begin to move forward and eventually heal.
2. Do not let others tell you that your feelings are not valid. Spend time around people who understand you, and take some time to disengage from those who do not.
3. Anger is normal, but use it constructively. Anger is a powerful emotion and can boost your energy, so use that energy in the form of being proactive in your community, writing letters to support causes that are meaningful to you, or even physical exercise.
4. Do not be surprised if you find yourself replaying events obsessively. This is a common stage of grief during which our minds go over and over the events leading up to a loss, trying to determine if there could have been a different outcome. This will fade within the days and weeks following.
5. Take time to rest. Grief can be draining. Because our minds are on overdrive and our emotions are cresting at an all-time high, you may feel exhausted more easily.
6. Take note of your anxiety level. Grief can often provoke feelings of anxiety due to the sudden realization that ourselves and our world are more vulnerable than we had previously thought. Do things to stay calm: meditation and exercise are helpful.
7. Limit your media intake. Some may be best suited to take a media break until they have worked through their more intense feelings.
8. Seek support. If you feel you need more support than you currently have reach out to a counselor. Even a few sessions of short-term therapy can be incredibly helpful.
This post is part of Common Grief, a Healthy Living editorial initiative. Grief is an inevitable part of life, but that doesn’t make navigating it any easier. The deep sorrow that accompanies the death of a loved one, the end of a marriage or even moving far away from home, is real. But while grief is universal, we all grievedifferently. So we started Common Grief to help learn from each other. Let’s talk about living with loss. If you have a story you’d like to share, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.