Beginner's Guide to Grief - Emotions & Ways to Cope
When you first start grieving, the amount of emotions you experience may feel overwhelming. We've outlined a lot of the feelings you may have, given you some tips on how to cope with them, and directed you to some other helpful resources.
What Am I Feeling?
When you first start grieving, there are a lot of different emotions you may be feeling. Many people call these the "five stages of grief," which can come in any order, and are the five most common feelings people have while grieving.
Feeling denial is very common after your loved one's death. You may have a hard time realizing that the death is real, and that is perfectly normal at first. This is typically the first stage of grief that people experience.
If a week or two has passed and you still don't think that the death is real, it's important that you talk to someone about what you're feeling.
It's common to feel anger about your loved one's death. Whether it's at your loved one, at their death, or anything else, it's okay to feel that way.
Even though it may be easier to ignore your anger, it is important that you feel it. If you suppress your anger, you will be unable to process the death, so you need to feel your anger.
Bargaining is also common after a death. Saying things like "I'll never do __ again" or "I'll do anything" to have your loved one back is something that some people do after a death. There may be some times after your loved one's death where you find yourself bargaining to get them back, which is okay.
After going through denial, anger, and bargaining, many people feel depression. They realize that the loss is permanent and the loss begins to really affect them.
During this time, you may feel like you will never be happy again, but it is important to know that you will be happy again. It is important that you feel your pain during this time, and don't try to ignore it, as that will just make things worse.
If you find that you are becoming more and more depressed, have trouble completing daily activities, or that things are getting much worse instead of better, please seek support from an adult who can help you.
Acceptance is when you're finally okay with the death, and have really accepted it. However, this doesn't mean that your grief is "over." Grief is something that you will always have, but it just becomes less over time as you develop better and better coping mechanisms.
How to Cope with Your New Grief
So, you have all of these new feelings because of grief. How can you deal with them? Here are a few ways that you can cope with your new grief.
Feel Your Feelings
Ignoring your feelings may be the easy route, but it's the one you don't want to take. While it may seem like ignoring your grief is just a way to "skip" over the painful part, that will eventually cause you more pain that good.
Remember: If you don't feel it now, you'll have to feel it even more later.
Rely on Your Support System
When you lose a loved one, it's okay to rely a little extra on your support system. If you need more support from your friends and family than usual, ask them for it. Chances are, the people around you have expected that you'll need a little extra support, and will try to be there for you more, but even if they aren't, you can always ask them for support.
Talk About What You're Feeling
Bottling up your emotions is not the way to deal with grief, even though it may seem easier. Talking to people about what you're feeling, even if they can't understand, helps a lot.
Most teens don't understand grief, but that doesn't mean that you can't talk to them. Often, talking to someone who doesn't get it at all is still a lot more helpful than keeping everything in, as it allows you to talk through what you're feeling and process it better in your mind.
Find People Who Understand
A lot of teenagers don't understand grief, but that doesn't mean that all teenagers don't get it. Approximately 1 in 4 teens experiences a loss, meaning that there are thousands of kids out there who get it.
Many schools have support groups for grieving teens, and if you don't know of one, you can go talk to your guidance counselor, who can refer you to a group or other resources that can help grieving teens.
Other Helpful Resources
Do you want to read more about your grief? Here are some of our best articles about new grief.
"While my friends were at homecoming, I was processing the death of my dad. No one seemed to understand that hearing about good times I had missed out on made me feel worse."
"Going through a loss during the school year is hard, and it's difficult to know what to say to your teachers."
Read advice about how to help your friends understand your grief. "Going back to school after my dad died was scary, and I didn’t think about how my peers, who didn’t understand grief, would react."
"Being locked in your house 24/7 isn't the ideal way to deal with grief. Yet, more and more of us are faced with it daily." Read about how you can deal with your grief while quarantined.
While your first moments of grief may seem overwhelming to deal with, it isn't impossible. Grief can be a lot at first, and while it will always be there, it becomes less and less over time. Just remember: You are never alone in your grief.
Written by Natalie Adams, the creator of Teenage Grief Sucks.