We all suffer from our fair share of heartache—whether it’s rooted in a breakup, the loss of a loved one, abandonment, the death of a pet, or any number of things. And in any such circumstance, it’s important that we confront the painful feelings that accompany the painful experience. But that isn’t typically the case… instead, we do our best to ignore or suppress those emotions. To be and appear “strong.” To move on before we’ve actually moved on.

Jasmin Terrany, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, knows all about dealing with painful experiences and emotions—but she does so in a healthy and effective manner. Terrany’s mother died tragically in a car accident one sunny morning on the way to meet her daughter for lunch. Terrany says that although the abandonment wasn’t intentional, the loss and feelings of abandonment weighed heavy still. Fortunately, however, three fundamental approaches helped her grieve and heal properly. She first explains the premise of each approach and then goes on to explain exactly how she healed emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually below:

The Emotional Approach

Most people do whatever they can not to feel uncomfortable feelings. Pain is not something that should be avoided or ignored. When we don’t deal with painful feelings, they come out in self-destructive behaviors. People who don’t address uncomfortable feelings in healthy ways often use…

  • food
  • alcohol
  • drugs
  • overworking
  • over-exercising
  • screen time
  • shopping
  • sex

…as ways to distract or self-medicate from their pain. It is of the upmost importance to make time to feel your feelings. Whether it’s taking time to meditate, journal, go to therapy, or just simply cry. It’s important to be in your body and let yourself release the feelings that you have. It takes time, and there’s no rules as to how long they will be there, but the more loving and patient you are with your feelings the more likely they will eventually dwindle.

I made time every day to cry. I often went to a dark spin class and bawled my eyes out in the back of the room. I wasn’t ashamed. I didn’t put pressure on myself to stop feeling what I was feeling. It was okay that six, eight, or ten months later the pain was just as intense as it was day one. I let myself feel it.

The Intellectual Approach

Most people go straight to the mind in order to heal the heart. This is not recommended, however. If you are doing the emotional practices above, your mind will need some understanding as to what happened, why it happened, what could have been done differently, and most importantly, what the lessons are that you were supposed to learn from this experience.

I found many things to be grateful for, or use the words, “At least…” At least I didn’t have to see her body, at least it wasn’t more of my family, at least she didn’t suffer, at least nothing was left unspoken. I decided that her death was my gift, my opportunity to grow in ways I couldn’t have if she were here. I found ways to change my perspective to see it as an opportunity for learning and growth.

The Spiritual Approach

Most people who have some sort of spiritual foundation find it easier to get through challenging times because there is a sense of faith that everything happens the way it is supposed to. If there is a way to connect on a more spiritual plane, perhaps meditation, prayer, church, temple, etc., it is often easier to let go of the pain, and more quickly understand the lessons.

Obviously, death can perhaps relate more easily with spirituality, but I found that daily meditations, spiritual readings, etc., were very grounding in my ability to handle the pain of the loss.