Healthy Ways to Process Grief

Dr. Caroline Leaf
9 min readMar 1, 2022

In a recent podcast (episode #360), I talked about grief, and answered some of your questions about dealing with and managing grief.

Since grief is inescapable and can come about for all sorts of reasons, it’s important to accept that it’s an intrinsic part of being human, instead of trying to avoid or suppress the emotion. Below are some of the main questions I have received over the years, and some answers and tips to help you better deal with and manage grief:

-Why is grief such a difficult feeling to process?

Dealing with loss and the grief that comes with this feeling often means facing something that is both final and unchangeable, which makes grief very hard to manage. And, contrary to popular opinion, time doesn’t just “heal” this feeling of loss. Rather, time helps to create the space necessary to come to terms with the inevitability of the loss.

In many cases, feelings of loss and grief are compounded by a sense of regret or even guilt, which can also be very hard to process.

-Why isn’t grief linear?

The five stages of grief model, otherwise known as the Kübler-Ross model, suggests that people experience grief through a series of five emotions: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Although this model has gained popularity, it is not supported by empirical studies — many people argue that this model is incomplete and unhelpful for people trying to manage their grief.

Research shows that grief doesn’t unfold along predictable lines and differs greatly based on a person’s makeup and circumstances. People naturally move back and forth through different stages and expressions of grief. Consequently, it can be harmful to force people to try to fit their unique experiences into a set pattern of grief.

We all experience grief in waves and cope in different ways. We should not judge ourselves if we feel great one day and terrible the next.

-What are some healthy ways to process grief?

  1. As mentioned above, we all experience grief in waves and cope in different ways, so you shouldn’t judge yourself if you feel great one day and bad the next day.
  2. Remind yourself that there is no one way of experiencing grief, and there is no one way of getting through grief.
  3. Remind yourself that grief is a part of life, and that it isn’t shameful to ask for help or…

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Dr. Caroline Leaf

Mental health expert. I have spent the last 30+ years researching ways to help people manage mental health issues in school, work, and life: drleaf.com