In this podcast (episode #251) and blog, I discuss the different types of grief, how to manage grief using the Neurocycle, what happens in the brain and body when we don’t deal with our grief, how grief can affect our emotional and physical health, how to help a loved one deal with their grief, and more!
Grief is unavoidable in life, and is something we never just “get over”. Time doesn’t make it all go away; we just get better at managing our grief. However, there is hope; when we know how to move through grief, we can better manage the sadness and achieve a level of healing that makes it tolerable, whether we are at home or work.
We need to recognize that grief is not just limited to death. It can be related to the loss of anything—a pet, a time in your life, a friend, and so on. Grief doesn’t necessarily follow a distinct 5 stage pattern either, as we are often told. It can be unpredictable and difficult to deal with, impinging on our ability to do even the most basic of tasks.
Based on my research and time in private practice, I have noticed that grief tends to cycle between denial, anger, guilt, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance (among other emotions). We can experience one or more than one of these feelings at a time, which can make balancing our personal and professional life difficult.
When it comes to the loss of someone you care for, this can be especially challenging. In a relationship, you literally wire the other person into your brain—each encounter adds more to this neural network. When you lose this person, the mind must adjust and adapt; the brain literally must go through a process of rewiring. While recovering from any kind of loss takes time, and the process is different for everyone, it does take cycles of 63 days to achieve any kind of readjustment in the mind’s energy pattern and rewiring, which can affect how you function on a day-to-day basis.
Whether you are the one suffering from grief and trying to manage life, or whether you have someone in your life who is suffering from grief, providing the space to embrace, process and reconceptualize the loss is incredibly important.
To do this, I recommend doing a Neurocycle, the scientific mind-management process I have developed and researched over the past three decades, and discuss in my upcoming book Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess and in my latest clinical trials. These 5 steps can help you or a loved one process of the pain of grief and move forward, finding a way to manage and cope with the pain in the moment and in the future:
Step 1: Gather
Right now, you are probably feeling overwhelmed with sadness. I just want you to sit with this and allow yourself to be sad.
Allow yourself to cry.
Allow yourself to scream.
Allow the emotions to go through you.
What are you feeling physically? Where are you feeling it in your body? Just take note of your emotions and allow them to be for a few more moments.
Before we move on to the next step, I want you to do some deep box breathing to help calm your mind and body. Breath in for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts and exhale for 4 counts. Do this as many times as you need to (I recommend doing this at least 3 times to help calm your mind).
Step 2: Reflect
Now, I want you to reflect on your grief and loss. I want you focus on the person, place, or thing that has been lost. Acknowledge the pain; give yourself permission to do so. Ask yourself questions like;
Why are you sad about this loss?
If you have tried suppressing your grief, why?
How did you feel when you tried avoiding the pain?
How do you feel now that you are embracing the pain?
What would you say to someone if they were the ones experiencing this loss instead of you?
How have you dealt with loss and grief and sadness in the past?
Now, for a few moments try to balance this by remembering the good times.
Step 3: Write
In this step, write down the answers to your reflections in a journal, on paper or on your phone or device. This will help you organize your thoughts and emotions and process your pain.
Step 4: Recheck
Now, spend a few moments just re-checking and re-reflecting on what you answered and wrote down.
How are you feeling now as you are processing and embracing the sadness and grief?
Do you feel sadder?
Do you feel guilty for feeling sad? Why?
Are you embarrassed by your sadness? Why?
Can you give yourself permission to grieve?
Can you give yourself the time you need and the process you need to grieve?
Step 5: Active reach
For this step, I want you to do any or all of the following:
- Go talk to someone about your feelings and what you wrote down. Let them know you are vulnerable and just need someone to listen. Don’t try to go it alone! There is no shame in sadness, loss or grief. You can talk to a close confidant, a therapist, or find a support group near you.
- Build more fun into your day to help bring some joy back into your life. Maybe take a long hot bubble bath, bake your favorite dessert or watch your favorite happy movie. Allow yourself to have fun and be happy. It may feel unnatural at first, like you are somehow betraying the loss, but this is not true—your loved one will want you to find joy again. Your brain needs this. You need this!
- Be patient with yourself through this healing process. Do not compare your healing, processing journey and timeline to someone else’s.
- Be gentle with yourself. Take naps, eat healthy, go for walks, get some sunshine, do some exercise. Do what you need to do to find a little bit of peace.
- Think in cycles, not lines. If you reach a point where you’re feeling good only to feel bad again, it’s not a sign that you’ve relapsed or gotten worse. It’s how grief works, and it’s actually a sign of forward movement. Grief is a series of loops. You can circle back to where you were some time ago and still be moving forward!
- Remind yourself that it won’t feel like this forever. There’s no getting over the loss of a loved one, but you can find ways to incorporate the loss into your life as you move forward. Grief is a natural response to loving someone. Though we all have past experiences that may influence how we see ourselves, grief provides an opportunity for us to reflect on what matters most to us.
For more information on managing grief using the Neurocycle, listen to my podcast (episode #251), preorder my new book Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess (and receive exclusive bonuses!) and check out my SWITCH app and our most recent clinical trials.
This podcast was sponsored by:
Blinkist, one of my favorite ways to pass the time while exercising and build my brain, which improves mental resilience!: To get your free week on Blinkist AND 25% off your subscription see: https://www.blinkist.com/nc/partners/cleaning-up-the-mental-mess
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2:30 Why grief is unavoidable in life
3:25 How we can learn to manage grief
3:50 Why we never “get over” loss
4:12 The many types of grief
8:30 How to use mind management and the Neurocycle to manage grief
11:50 How deep breathing helps calm down the mind
21:35 The different stages of grief and how to deal with them
23:20 Why it is so hard to deal with the loss of a loved one, and what you can do to make the process easier
This podcast and blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional.