Grief is an ongoing process. Here’s how to manage it

Life coach and author Tiffany Knox shares ways and techniques to face grief.

COVID-19 is now the third leading cause of death in the U.S., and each person who doesn’t survive leaves an average of nine close relatives bereaved, a new article in The Atlantic reports. That mean millions of Americans are grieving, and studies show it’s not something Americans do very well.

Life coach and author Tiffany Knox says grief is different for everyone. “Grief has shown up in different areas in my life … I would say for me, it’s the memory of the loved one, the memory of lost love that you once had.”

Managing grief is an ongoing process, Knox says. “You could be doing well one day and then the next year you just have an explosion of emotions that overwhelm you. It can be triggered by a COVID loss, it can be triggered by someone close to you that loses someone you know.”

The death toll from COVID-19 has soared past 1 million, and that has resulted in grief showing up as anger, annoyance as aggression. Knox says this is caused by a fear of the unknown. Grief doesn’t have to be physical loss; it can be the loss of connection, such as not being able to see family members in nursing homes or having to wave to grandparents from a window.

“There is no time limit to grieving. There is a time limit to living life, though, I’d say to getting back on the bandwagon and trying to enjoy some of this life that you have lacked. —Tiffany Knox

“That’s grief, that disconnection of love that you once had,” Knox says. “And people take that anger that they have. They use it when something happens, for instance … when we had the Black Lives Matter [protests]. They took it out in anger that was like grief, the grief that they’ve experienced from having that connection, to be able to connect with people, and to be able to socialize, and everything, the grief of the loss of that.”

Knox says in order to make it through grief, people need to “disconnect to reconnect.” That means sometimes people need to disconnect themselves, for example getting off social media.

“Sometimes you have to do that, and get along quietly to yourself, and reflect, and then come back, because grief takes a lot out of you. … And then once you disconnect yourself, you can reflect, you can come back and you can create you could put out back into the world, you can take the passions or whatever that loved one that left you the memories and all of that good stuff. You can take that as a force and a passion push that to push you forth to create something that wasn’t out there in the world.”

Knox says there are three steps people can take when grieving. First is to acknowledge the right to grieve.

“You have the right to grieve, and acknowledge how you’re feeling,” she says. Next is to internalize it, but that doesn’t mean bury it.

“[It means] to reflect on the great memories that you’ve had of that person, reflect on how you’re feeling deep down inside. Ask yourself, ‘How did that person that affect me?’”

Finally, Knox suggests releasing that feeling and accepting it.

“There is no time limit to grieving,” Knox says. “There is a time limit to living life, though, I’d say to getting back on the bandwagon and trying to enjoy some of this life that you have lacked. There is a time limit to that.”

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  • Amanda LeClaire is Host of CultureShift and is a founding producer of both of WDET's locally-produced daily shows. She's been involved in radio and the arts in Detroit for over a decade.