Sunday, June 16, 2013

the art of (not) coping with grief

my uncle passed away unexpectedly last weekend. it shocked our entire family. i know you don’t always see death knocking but i guess sometimes it would be nice to have a notice that death is on his way.

i could write for hours about how my fear of death keeps me in a constant corner of anxiety, but that is a topic for another day. instead i want to talk through coping with grief because its weighing heavily on my mind as something i haven’t figured out how to do in a healthy way.

i am an emotional eater with a history of disordered eating. my first instinct when in emotional turmoil is to cope by using food as a pacifier. while i have moved on from the days of spooning into quarts of ice cream like i used to do after break-ups with boyfriends in high school, my prime coping mechanism still remains in the edible category.

well, food and a large amount of salty tears paired with boxes of kleenex.

crying is a healthy way to deal with grief. so i am thankful that i’ve allowed myself to cry whenever i needed as much as i needed to.

but i’ve taken myself three giant steps back by allowing myself to manage my feelings through food. it doesn’t help that i’ve been paranoid for the past few days weeks that i’ve gained too much weight during 5k training. now add in the anger i have at myself for eating however much i want since i found out about my uncle’s passing and you have a recipe for a disastrous relapse.

i believe that by acknowledging my demons i can overcome them. and writing this out is part of that.

there’s this part of me that wishes i was someone who coped with grief by immersing myself in work, or physical activity or a hobby. but even that type of coping in excess isn’t healthy either.

truth be told, i don’t know exactly what healthy coping is, but i know i’m not doing it. sure, there are articles out there that can give you ideas on how to cope, but coping is so different depending on the person, the situation, the current environment … if there was a “one size fits all” solution, we’d all be the best “cope-ers” in the world, right?

since there’s no magic bullet, i’m forced to do what i need to do most: search inside myself, pick myself up and work on the small habits i’ve been trying to adopt to live a healthier and happier life. like most things in life, it all seems to come back to the fundamentals of how you choose to live. i want to choose a life where i can cope with grief, and other periods of emotional turmoil, in healthy, non-destructive ways. and the only way to do that is to keep moving forward, choosing to make one positive step at a time.

rest in peace, uncle gene


  1. I'm sorry :( I don't think most people have a healthy way of dealing with grief. I don't overeat, I tend to ignore, and then at the most random of times, I shut down, slowly process, breakdown and ignore again. Just continue to give yourself time. Also - stop getting on a scale. Give yourself a break, train how you need/want to train and let your body adapt.

  2. I'm glad you're my friend. :) You always seem to have a level perspective for me. Thank you

  3. So sorry for your loss. Love and prayers going out to you and your family. xoxo

  4. I'm so sorry for your loss and that you're going through a sad time. :(

    I, too, struggle with emotional eating (triggered by anything from minor daily stress to major hard times). You're not alone. I get so frustrated that I could have such a passion for eating healthy foods and working out, yet still gain weight simply from emotional eating/snacking. I'm still working on it.

    No one is perfect and there's no "perfect" way to cope. I think you're very strong to allow yourself to feel and grieve. Don't be hard on yourself. You'll get back in the swing of things when you're ready.

    Hoping you feel better soon! :)

  5. Thanks Amy :)

    I think, no matter how disciplined or whatever we get, that emotional eating will always be something we'll have to be mindful of, even when we're 80! I just hope at 80 I'll say "the hell with it" because it won't much matter at that point :)


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