15 Tips for Dealing With Grief, By a Mental Health Professional

I am 35 years old and write from experience. Many people assume a young person can’t possibly have life experience at this age. Let me tell you a little about what I’ve been through as a result of my own struggles with mental illness:

People do die as a direct or in-direct result of mental health disorders. At my current age of 35, I have lost more than 15 personal friends to death by suicide, medical complications from drug addiction, eating disorders, and terminal illness. All of those people were under the age of 35 at the time of their death.

This is what I’ve learned about death and grief:

1. People do die from mental illness.

2. Death is unpredictable.

3. Sometimes you don’t grieve.

4. Being numb after experiencing the loss of a friend or a family member is normal.

5. There is no right way to grieve, and there is no timeline for grief.

6. Sometimes you grieve before someone has died, and sometimes you grieve 10 years later.

7. Reminders are present at an unpredictable rate.

8. It’s OK to grieve for people you did not know well.

9. Sometimes you take out hurt on yourself or feel the urge to. Self-destructive urges are normal, but if you have these, please ask for help from a family member, friend, mental health profession, or call 911.

10. You will have questions about the meaning of life and the reasons for death.

11. You are not alone. Nobody is immortal, and we all die so chances are someone else in your life will be able to relate to what you’re going through.

12. Some deaths may have been preventable, but it is not your fault. There are always other factors that have contributed.

13. Grief comes in waves. Acute grief and pain can and do lessen.

14. Moving on does not mean forgetting.

15. You deserve to care for yourself and be happy.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

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