Community Steps to Take When You’re Trying to Serve Through Grief by Amanda Montoya When it hits you, grief seems to have a way of totally consuming you. Perhaps it is grief over the loss of a friend or family member, perhaps you are doing poorly in school, or perhaps you’ve experienced a break up. Regardless of what it is I hope you know that your sorrow is justified. I recently experienced a sense of grief that I have never experienced before. In October one of the teens I work with suddenly passed away and just a little over a week after that we lost one of my family members. In the weeks and months that followed I found myself trying very hard to pretend that I was okay, to be strong for everyone around me, and to pretend that I had everything together. In the midst of this, everything around me felt like it was falling apart. I was struggling to make deadlines at work, my friendships and relationships were falling apart, I became very irritable, and there were even days I didn’t want to get out of bed. After months of feeling this way I knew I had to claw myself out of the hole I was in and find a way to cope that was healthy. Below you will find 6 ways that I have found to help you cope in a healthy way. 1. Validate your feelings and know that it is okay to feel this way. Sometimes we find it easy to pretend we have it all together, to hide our feelings, or to be too proud to ask for help. It is acceptable to feel sad, to be hurting, or to not want to move out of your bed. The only way to start the journey to healing is to know that you are allowed to feel this way. 2. Ask for the help you need and know when you are not able to solve all of your problems on your own. Personally, I was very proud and thought that I could “fix” my problem myself. It took me a long time to reach out to people that I love to share with them my hurt and pain. Perhaps this is talking with your parents, best friend, siblings, youth minister, core members, or even a therapist. Know that it is okay to reach out for help and that all the people in your life who love you don’t want you to struggle with this grief on your own. 3. Write. Write it down. Write down your emotions, the things that make you happy, the anger you have, etc. Whatever emotion you have write it down. For me, this has helped me realize what things in my life trigger certain emotions. If I spend too much time in my house alone then I tend to not want to leave. Knowing my habits has helped me realize that I need to schedule my time so that I am not home alone for days on end. If you keep a journal of these things you can find concrete ways to work through them. 4. Move. Take time to move. Maybe this is through a sport you enjoy, going for a short walk, or taking an exercise class. Regardless of what it is moving your body each day will help bring your joy back. 5. Do one thing a day that brings you joy (even when you don’t want to). Finding something that you enjoy and doing that everyday is so important. When you are in the midst of grieving and you don’t even want to move, rewiring your brain to find joy in things again is essential. You’ve heard the phrase “fake it til you make it”. The same is true here. Maybe at first your 30 minutes will seem like a lifetime, but after awhile you will look forward to it and it will be one of your favorite parts of your day. 5. The final and most important thing (although possibly the thing we often take the longest to come back to) is Pray. Talk with God about it. Even if you’re angry with him or hurt with him. Tell him what you’re feeling. Shout at him if you need to, but be sure to talk with him. It is so easy for us to shut God out as some way of thinking that he did this to us on purpose or maybe we just can’t find the words to say. The Lord knows your heart and he wants to heal it. He wants to bring you closer to his loving arms, but he asks for your permission first. Know that you are not alone in these feelings of sorrow and grief. Please reach out for help along the healing process. Please do not suffer alone. Know that your life is worth living and the people who love you want to help you through this. You are created for a purpose and you are so loved.