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How to Cope With Grief

w/ Melanie Pelc and Sylvia

If you are in a crisis and need immediate help, please call 911 or 211.

Grief is unique to each of us. Join Melanie Pelc, founder and president of The Living Room, to learn about how to release and cope with grief.

Video Transcript:

Hi, everybody, it’s Melanie and Sylvia [Melanie’s pet chicken] from The Living Room. First thing before I go on, if you’re looking at this video to get some help and you’re in crisis, please call 9-1-1 or 2-1-1. It’s really important that you take care of yourself. You deserve to get the help, if you’re feeling that way, so again, call 9-1-1 or 2-1-1. 

So, what I’m here for today is to talk about first, how difficult the times are right now. Between COVID and our racial disparity, the isolation, all of the changes that we’re experiencing, we are in a really difficult place and so that alone will cause a lot of grief. And so you may be feeling really melancholy and, and feeling just different because of that alone, so I want you to be aware just how strong these changes can be. 

So, the first thing I want to say is, what is grief? Grief can look different for everybody; there’s no right or wrong way to grieve. We grieve physically, we grieve feelings, we — crying, anger, we’re used to hearing about that — but we can also become very forgetful, our sleep can be disturbed, eating can be disturbed, thoughts, anxiety increased. So it’s really important to kind of look in and see, “What is it that I’m feeling right now?” 

Again, grief is different; it’s unique to each of us. There’s no right or wrong way to grieve, and there’s no timeline on grief, so we each have our own unique way of reacting to the losses, and, depending on how many losses we’ve had, it all just triggers what our grief is gonna look like. 

So, what do we do with all that grief? What we have to do, the essential thing, is to release the grief. Grief does not go away, it just compiles on itself, so it just gets stronger and stronger, so releasing is essential. 

So, how do we release our grief? It’s — it depends on what it is that you’re grieving. So let’s say, if you’re sad, you’re going to cry. If you’re angry, you may want to scream, you may want to hit a pillow, listening to music, writing, drawing, being in nature if you need to kind of connect. So, part of it is just making sure that you’re releasing whatever feelings and intentionally doing an action to get that out.

So, one of the things that I need to point out is there’s a difference between releasing your grief emotions, and feelings and stress, and coping. Now, they may be similar, you may do similar things, for both, but one action when you’re releasing your grief, you’re having grief about something specific, whether it’s the changing of this entire world that we’re in right now, or if it’s like for graduates and moms and dads that they were disappointed about the graduation or anything, anything that may be going on with COVID, anything like that — it’s important to just release the grief for those things intentionally. 

For coping, it’s really important to make sure you have some place that you can go where you feel more safe, where you can come back to knowing, “Hey, I’m OK.” So, a lot of times what that may look like is, like animals, like this little soul [Melanie looks at Sylvia, the chicken] makes me feel more calm and connected. Nature… If you look around me right now, it’s beautiful, I can hear the birds chirping, that helps a lot. What is it in you that helps you cope? What makes you feel more peaceful? Is it exercise, is it, is it drawing? Is it music? So, they may be similar but they’re — you’re doing them for similar — for different reasons. So one is to release your grief and one is to cope with the stresses and the daily difficulties of life. 

So it is really important to remember that it may be day-to-day that we have to go ahead and especially right now, do the things that we need — spend time with animals, be out in nature, listen to music, do whatever you need to do. The other thing is to be able to talk about it. It’s so uncomfortable, we live in a grief-denying society where grief and death and difficulties and stuff we don’t talk about — even look at the racial disparities — we’re in a place right now where we’re talking about things we’re not used to, so there’s so much grief. So, have those difficult conversations. If you’re struggling, if you’re doing more and giving, make sure you’re — you’re filling your own cup, [Sylvia the chicken clucks] because you can’t give to others until you fill your own cup. Right, Sylvia? 

Know that The Living Room is here, and that we are here to help you however we can, so please reach out. You’re not alone, and as a community, Tallahassee, we can do this together. Thank you.