Tools for coping with grief and loss with Allira Potter

By Allira Potter, she/they. Allira is a proud Yorta Yorta woman.

I want to talk about the topic of grief and to share a few things that have helped me during my grieving process. As I write this, I'm sitting with my own grief after losing a dear friend. I feel lost and overwhelmed, and I’m struggling to stay present, which are all normal feelings when grieving the loss of a loved one.

This isn't my first experience of grief. At the age of 17, I lost my mum to cancer. During that time, I constantly felt numb. I was in a sort of foggy state of mind where everything around me seemed to move while the fog remained in front of me.

You can also experience grief if a friend or family member gets sick, if a dream or a goal doesn’t quite pan out, if something bad happens to a celebrity or someone else you admire, and in a number of other situations.

Download the transcript.

I found that getting out in nature brought mindfulness and made me feel a lot more present.

Throughout my grieving process, I experienced a range of emotions: sadness, anger, frustration, and more. I’ve been fortunate to have great support around me, but one thing I learnt is to utilise that support more.

If you're experiencing grief, I want to assure you that you're not alone and that there is support available. Understand that the heavy feelings you're currently experiencing will eventually ease, but grief isn’t something that disappears overnight; it stays with us for a while.

Ride the wave and don't hesitate to ask for help.

What helped me through the grieving process

After my mum passed away, I found small things that helped me to heal during the grieving process. I hope they might help you on your journey, too.

You may not feel like doing anything, and it's perfectly okay just to stay in bed and watch Netflix. Don't be afraid to sit with your feelings. Personally, though, I found that getting out in nature brought me back to a grounded state. It made me feel present and calm. Tuning into the sights and smells and sounds around me helped me to feel like myself again.

Eating was a challenge for me. I had no appetite, and the thought of sitting down at a table made me feel uncomfortable. However, I encourage you to try and eat something nourishing to maintain your physical wellbeing. I found that eating my favourite foods or wholesome meals also helped to maintain my energy levels. So, my advice to you is to engage in gentle movement, savour delicious foods, spend time in nature, and don't hesitate to reach out to someone.

Supporting a friend through grief

If you're on the other side of grief and supporting a friend who is going through it, you could help them to find their own ways of coping. This might mean you suggest some things that worked for me (or you), or you ask your friend what they think might help them, or you might even think of some things for them if they’re too overwhelmed. For instance, if your friend is usually the first one to suggest a movie night, you could be the one to suggest it and organise it as a way to help them feel a bit better.

Be available for your friend and let them know you're free whenever they need a shoulder to cry on. I found having my friends drop by with food or snacks really helpful, because some days I would honestly just forget to eat.

Lastly, check in on your friend regularly. Weekly is good timing to aim for, as this period can be an overwhelming time for them and they may not think to reach out, even if they know they need support.

Know that it will get easier. The pain will still be with you, but it will gradually become more manageable and eventually you’ll feel like yourself again.

What can I do now?

  • Chat to a peer worker who understands on ReachOut PeerChat.

  • Connect with other First Nations young people in the ReachOut Online Community.

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