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Six Steps To Surviving Grief

Six Steps To Surviving Grief

When I started writing this a month ago, my keypad was so wet the “F” key stopped working. So I decided for the sake of my Dell, I’d revisit it at a later date.

It’s not easy to write about grief, especially when you’re deep in the belly of its awfulness. When you keep your grief holed up inside, it twists you out of shape and makes you a real pain to be around. But writing, talking, or clay making (whatever your chosen method of catharsis) does help.

Grief steamrolled its way into my life four months ago. My 96-year-old grandfather and the greatest man who’s ever lived decided to do the eternally “one”– leaving me disappointed (for him) that he missed a card from Betty Windsor, but mostly devastated.

Of course, at 96 I reckoned his game would be up soon. But still, much like a naïve child, I thought my hero would live forever. Having become accustomed now to not dialing his UK landline on a Sunday night, it’s time to share with others my six-step guide to surviving grief.

Step 1: Allow yourself to break

Allowing yourself to break is probably the hardest thing you will do because for most of us, it’s just not cool when we think others think we’re not coping.

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This contained culture of ours celebrates the rational, the unflinching, the tearless, leaving the rest of us (the other 99%) somehow ashamed of our emotions and way less likely to have a public meltdown.

At my grandfather’s funeral, I watched veterans stifle their sadness into old handkerchiefs because they didn’t want to be a bother.

Lucky for me, I was born into a harem of criers, with my sister and her chin wobble at the helm. So I knew in that moment, facing a befitting mahogany casket with my grandfather’s liberated soul soaring high above my head, it was safe to break.

Step 2: Choose chocolate over wine

A common reaction of most adults upon hearing bad news is to reach for a bottle. I’m no exception.

In the week following my grandfather’s death, I’d describe my resting state as “oiled.” I found that a nighttime glass (or three) of my good friend Shiraz temporarily smoothed the edge off grief, only for it to reform in the morning with a roughness that would floor me. Let’s face it — no one finds peace at the bottom of a glass.

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Where I did find peace was in chocolate.

I’m not saying “go forth and gorge your grief on 12 bars of Cadbury’s.” Show some restraint. But a nibble here and there in moments of vulnerability will do far less harm than a hangover.

Step 3: Tune out other’s shi%

This is also a tricky one, particularly if you’re naturally inclined to be a sounding board.

I pride myself on being available for people in times of strife — I’ve made a part-time career out of it. But when everything inside of you is struggling to make sense, you need to be your own patient.

Be honest with the serial complainers in your life. Tell them you’re just not strong enough (right now) to listen to their shi%. And, besides, that’s what hairdressers are paid for.

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Step 4: Buy stuff

In the last four months, I’ve impulse purchased a sofa, desk, chair, clothes, designer bags, weekends away, flights, an extravagant scratching post for a cat, and a 43 track album called So Country 2016.

Did I need any of this stuff? No.

Did it make me feel better at the time? Yes. Well, except the album — that must have been a particularly bad day.

Step 5: Exercise till you spew

I’m a massive advocate of exercise, partly because there’s an obese person in me just dying to get out, but generally because you can’t deny its positive impact on mood. So when my gym advertised a free personal training session with no need to commit, I decided to give it a go.

It helps that my instructor is a cross between Chris Hemsworth and John Snow, but there’s something therapeutic about pushing my body so hard that my lunch makes a comeback. I can tackle my demons with greater clarity, and my bum is beginning to look great in skinny jeans.

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Step 6: Let loved ones in

It’s a simple mandate, yet bewilderingly difficult to execute. Why? Because grief is something you don’t like to share, like dirty secrets or a large pizza when you’re hungry.

My wonderfully patient fiancé chipped away at my forcefield every day for a month. She’d hold my hand while I’d cry at any mention of old people and death on TV. She’d let me snipe and snap at her for no good reason. She’d consistently give me the largest serving of dessert. She’d pick me up from work and drive me to quiet places where I could avoid the crowds. And it was these subtle and tender actions that have helped me slowly heal.

If there’s one thing that these six steps have taught me and will hopefully teach you, it’s that when you lose someone you love, grief will take up residence in your life — and that’s OK. It’s there to be felt in all its horrible splendor.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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