Managing Grief After a Tragedy

Given the recent tragedy at The Ohio State Universities Graduation, we’d like to use this issue of the newsletter to provide tips and strategies for coping with grief, especially after a tragedy in a community.

Being present during a tragedy is traumatic, and a tragedy on such an emotionally significant day can bring up all sorts of feelings.

Everyone grieves differently, and there’s no one way to properly grieve. Remember that grief isn’t something you’re choosing to feel, it’s a natural emotional response to experiencing something traumatic, or from going through a big loss or change. Grief has a way of disrupting our routines, which can have a big impact on everyday mental health.

Grief also tends to make us feel isolated and like we can’t talk to anyone else about what we’re going through. The truth is, though, that we all experience grief at some point. It’s not an emotion we can avoid forever. While grief is one of the more intense emotions that we can experience, there are ways to make the experience less unpleasant.

So, how can you support yourself through grief after a tragedy? Here are some things to keep in mind:

Time Will Be Your Friend

It’s a cliche, but it’s also true. Time will make these feelings easier to manage. It can be hard to get through the day to day experience of grief, even when knowing that time will help make it easier to bear. When you’re struggling, remind yourself that this feeling won’t last forever. The shock and urgency will not always feel this intense. While feeling your feelings is a crucial part of moving through all emotions, even the tough ones, it’s okay to take it easy and try to distract yourself some of the time while the intensity of what you’re feeling is still high.

Allow Yourself to Feel Your Feelings

Feelings are temporary, but it doesn’t seem that way when you’re in the middle of experiencing them. Try to notice what it feels like when the waves of grief come up for you. What do you notice? What do you experience in your body? Are there sensations that can help you clue in to the fact that grief is present? When you can notice these signs and track how the emotion feels in your body, it can help you feel less out of control and more in tune with what’s happening.

Remind yourself that this intensity will pass. Try soothing yourself with a shower, a nap, some music, exercise, or talking to someone you care about while you wait for the wave to pass.

Bring in Your Support System

We’re social animals, and we do best in community with others. We are wired to connect with people, and in moments of intense emotions, leaning on your support system is a major part of healing.

Tell the people who care about you what’s going on. Let them know when you need extra comfort, or a distraction, or a deep talk. It can also be helpful to loop in your therapist, and if you don’t have one, working through grief is something that a therapist can support you with, so now might be a great time to get started.

Focus on Self-Care

Finally, it’s important to make sure you’re taking care of yourself during this time. Make sure you’re getting enough to eat, drinking enough water, sleeping enough, and taking your meds. If you’re up for it, spend time in nature or take walks to support your mental health gently. Take time to do what appeals to you – cuddling a pet or child, working on a craft or something creative, reading, gardening, gaming – as you move through this experience.

How We Can Help

Holistic Consultation has several counselors to support you during times of grief. If you or someone you know would like additional resources related to coping with grief, check out our additional resources:

And finally, if you or someone you know is having a mental health crisis, text 741-741 or call 988.