6 coping skills to deal with grief and loss (2023)

Being extremely sad can be a natural response to loss. But what do you do when emotions cut you off?

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Loss is a unique experience. Not everyone goes through grief and heartache in the same way, and there is no such thing as "right fighting".

In fact, grief can take many different forms, from numbness to unstoppable tears. some people happenfive loss levels, but different people have different experiences. Each reaction is unique and valid.

There is no time limit for mourning. How long it takes you to process a loss depends on many factors. One of them could be the resources you have on hand. For example your coping skills.

Grief usually refers to the deep emotional sadness that results from a loss. However, it is not always the loss of a loved one.

Losing a home or job, experiencing a natural disaster, or even seeing someone you love going through a difficult time can make you grieve. For some people, the end of a romantic relationship can also lead to grief.

Despite what some people may believe, grief and depression are not the same thing.

Depressionis a formal mental health diagnosis with specific, identifiable criteria or symptoms.

In some cases, an unresolved grieving process can lead to symptoms of depression. However, this is not always the case and depends on many factors.

Both grief and depression can involve feelings of sadness and hopelessness, but in the case of grief, they are usually associated with a specific event or loss.

Symptoms of depression can also last longer and often require the support of a mental health professional to manage them, which is often not the case with grief.

What are coping skills?

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Coping skills are the thoughts and actions you use to respond to events that can distress you. You probably learned this along the way and through influence and experience.

These skills are conscious strategies you use to deal with emotions such as anger, fear, anxiety, or sadness. They don't necessarily solve the situation, but you may find that they help you manage your feelings.

For example, after an argument with your partner, you can meditate for 10 minutes or have a glass of wine.

Coping skills can be simple tactics you use the moment you feel your emotions rising. They can also be long-term strategies that you focus on when you're going through prolonged difficult periods, such as B. when you are grieving.

But not all coping skills help alleviate grief. Some can really slow down the process and some of them can endanger you or someone else's safety.

Avoidant versus active coping skills

When you experience grief, you may work on active or avoidant coping skills. It may depend on the situation or how you are used to dealing with stressful events.

Active coping means trying to address the source of your emotional pain directly with thoughts or actions that transform the event itself or the way you view it.

Avoidant coping skills are more related to using strategies that distract your mind or heart from the event.

For example, an active coping skill might be asking someone to help you solve a problem, while an avoidant coping skill might be alcohol use.

after aStudy 2016, active coping mechanisms tend to be more effective in managing stress.

The goal of coping skills is usually to reduce or support the negative emotions and thoughts that can accompany grief or active problem solving.

positive Reframing

Also known as "looking on the bright side," positive reframing can feel challenging at first, especially when you're grieving.

Reframing can be cognitive - focusing on your thoughts or emotional - focusing on your feelings.

It is natural to feel that there is nothing positive about your loss. But with positive reframing, you don't neglect the importance of your loss. You focus on appreciating the aspects that you can still connect with the person or event that you missed.

For example, you could focus on fond memories and lessons learned, or work on a tribute. These actions can transform your feelings of grief and bring temporary relief.

(Video) 12 Suggestions for Dealing with Grief and Loss


Laughing in a time of loss may seem impossible, but that doesn't mean there aren't moments here and there where you can't find humor.

It may depend on your situation and may not always work, but actively seeking humor can help you deal with the pain.

For example, you can focus on fun memories with your loved one. You can also watch your favorite comedy or look at funny pictures from the past.

The goal is not to dismiss or discount the importance of your loss. It is designed to help you sustain more positive emotions - even temporarily - that may bring you relief that you need to deal with.


Feeling connected to a higher purpose or having a sense of the afterlife can be comforting.

When you've lost someone close to you, believing in a painless afterlife can ease the grief.

If that's not the case for you, you can connect to everything that's more important to you, from graduation rituals to prayers.


Acceptance is not about being okay with your loss. It's natural to feel like you never will. Instead, it's more about focusing on what's next and learning to live with the loss.

Focusing on adjusting to the new reality can evoke positive emotions like hope and gratitude.

perspective focus

You may have heard some people say that gaining perspective is important. This usually means looking at the bigger picture and looking at more than just the immediate aspects of a situation.

Perspective is relative and subjective. It can also be about perception.

To deal with grief, try to focus on aspects beyond the loss. For example, what you learned from the loss itself or from the person or event you lost.


Not all grief is related to irreversible loss, like the death of a loved one.

In some cases, you can take control of your situation and solve problems to improve your bottom line.

If you've ended a long-term relationship, now may be the time for an introspection. You can also focus on specific tasks like moving to a new location, rearranging your drawers, or breaking up joint accounts.

Difference between coping and self-care skills

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Positive coping skills may look like self-care, but they are different. However, both are important when you are grieving.

Self-care is sort of a coping skill. It helps you manage your emotions and be proactive in dealing with your grief.

Self-care can include:

  • start of psychotherapy
  • A practice
  • practice relaxation techniques
  • daily
  • ask for support
  • go to the doctor for a check-up
  • Reunion with family and friends
  • start a new hobby
  • Pursue your academic or professional goals

Coping skills are not the same asdefense mechanism, any.

Defense mechanisms are primarily unconscious responses to protect your psychological well-being in times of extreme stress.

Coping skills are more aware. They aim to solve and overcome situations or alleviate suffering.

You can often choose which coping strategy is best for a stressful event, but you are often unaware of your unconscious defense mechanisms.

For example, reaction formation is a common defense mechanism during difficult times. It's about behaving in a way that contradicts what they're feeling.

In this case, you may act optimistic despite feeling sad after a breakup. This is your spirit protecting you from pain.

A coping skill would be to go out with friends or family and ask for their support because you accept that you are feeling down.

Developing coping skills can take time. When you're dealing with grief, you can use your coping skills to:

  • Act by seeking and accepting support from others
  • acknowledge that you are in a grieving process
  • Focus on solving immediate problems
  • Express your feelings out loud or in a journal
  • Learn to recognize emotional triggers
  • Engage in activities that you usually enjoy
  • be kind and patient with yourself about your process
  • rest enough
  • Set goals, even if they are small and immediate

If you feel you are having a particularly difficult time grieving, please know that it is natural and common. If it's preventing you from completing important tasks or taking care of yourself and others, consider seeking help.

Sometimes unresolved grief can lead to complicated grief or depression. Talking to a trained professional about how you are feeling can help you begin your journey to healing.

Help is now available

If you have thoughts of self-harm or suicide, you are not alone.

(Video) The Grieving Process: Coping with Death

Grief is a universal experience and there is no right or wrong way to deal with it. Although it may seem difficult at the time, the grief can become less intense over time.

Developing coping skills for grief and other difficult times can help you manage your emotions and begin a healing path.

In some cases, especially when challenges are difficult to overcome, a psychotherapist can help.

If you decide to take this step, these resources may help:


1. How to Deal With Loss or Grief of Love Ones
2. Coping with Grief: 9 Tips & Activities from A Therapist
(Steph Anya, LMFT)
3. We don't "move on" from grief. We move forward with it | Nora McInerny
4. Grief Counselling: 3 Techniques Therapists Can Use
(Uncommon Practitioners)
5. 5 Things About Grief No One Really Tells You
6. Transforming Grief – When I Lost My Only Child | Phil Cohen | TEDxYoungCirclePark
(TEDx Talks)


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