Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Avoid Your Grief

Posted by  Soribel Martínez, LCSW

Everyone goes through periods of grief in their lives. 

Most of us associate grief with the loss of someone we care about. But, it can be triggered by so much more than that. You can experience grief after losing a job, a pet, or even losing a sense of “normalcy”. 

There’s a reason so many people have been dealing with it throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Unfortunately, there are some stigmas surrounding grief. 

Some people think you need to “get over it” quickly, or avoid facing it altogether. While that might work for a while, it’s not a long-term solution. It could eventually end up causing more harm than good. 

Understanding Avoidance

Avoiding grief is something so many people do. You might not even realize you’re doing it to yourself. Maybe you’re trying to stay busy so you take on more hours at work or develop a new hobby. Or, maybe you want to “get away” from your grief by traveling more. 

There are plenty of ways to avoid it that will catch up to you in the end. 

Recognizing and understanding that avoidance is the first step in actually facing your grief and working through it. 

Think about what you’re running from and how you’re trying to distract yourself. 

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that avoiding your feelings long enough will cause them to go away. That’s the biggest “lie” people tend to believe when they’re running from grief. 

How Avoiding Your Grief Can Cause Problems

When you try to run away from your grief, you could also be running away from important things in your life. 

Many people who practice avoidance withdraw themselves from friends, family, and the things they typically enjoy doing. Your work might suffer. Your personal life can become something unrecognizable. Because you’re constantly avoiding something, even your health can suffer as you fight fatigue and feel completely taxed each day.  

The worst part of avoiding your grief, however, is the long-term problems it can cause. 

Emotions demand to be felt. It’s how you choose to respond to them that makes a difference. You can try to push them down for a while, but they will eventually come forward. Like anything under pressure, if they have been kept “forced” into submission for too long, they could end up coming forward even stronger than they originally would have. 

When they do, you might deal with feelings of anxiety and depression or even the effects of trauma. 

How to Accept and Work Through Your Grief

You’ve probably heard of the stages of grief, and they have stood the test of time for a reason. 

There’s also a reason why acceptance is the final step. 

Grief is a process. The longer you avoid it, the longer that process will take. It’s not something you can accept and “be okay with” immediately, and there is no perfect timeline for getting through it. 

Instead, each person has to deal with grief differently and at their own pace. Are the stages difficult to get through? They can be. Will you have to face things you don’t want to? Yes.  

But, no matter what you lost, working through those stages is the best way to move forward and start the next chapter of your life. If you don’t, you could hold yourself back from really living. 

If you recently experienced a loss of any kind, know that you’re not alone. You also don’t have to cope with that loss on your own. 

Whether you’re tired of avoiding your grief or you’re having a hard time accepting it, feel free to contact me. Together, we can make the necessary strides that will help you through the stages of grief, so you can move forward.

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