Everyone has to deal with the passing of a loved one at some point in their lives. Feeling sad throughout the mourning process is normal. But, how do you handle those feelings? How do you go on with the hole your loved one left behind?
Experts have identified five common stages of grief that many people tend to follow. These stages are:
You may go through some or none of these, because grief is an incredibly personal process. And, it’s important to note that, while the tips we share today can be helpful, there is no cure-all for sadness. We’ll try to cover some of the best strategies for coping, but it’s important to find what works best for you.
Dealing with Your Grief
When you lose a loved one, you’ll face a host of competing emotions. You’ll probably feel sadness and regret. Sometimes, you may feel guilt, or depending on the situation, relief that they’re in a better place. Reconciling these feelings will be instrumental in resolving your grief, but how can you do that?
Allow Yourself to Feel the Grief
The first step toward getting past your sadness is allowing yourself to grieve. At first, you may deny your sadness, especially while the shock of loss is still hitting you. That’s why denial is often considered the first step of grieving. But, actively denying yourself the chance to feel sad halts the healing process. Accepting your sadness and giving yourself time to mourn starts it.
Keep Yourself Busy
Staying active is a great way to prevent yourself from wallowing in grief. While you should allow yourself to feel sad, completing regular tasks can act as a welcome distraction. In a sense, it can also represent a return to routine and that life does go on.
Doing things may be difficult. You might feel like you’re forgetting your loved one, but it’s important to remember that they most likely wouldn’t want you to stop living your life. You don’t want to be too busy, though. Don’t forget to give yourself a break occasionally. Make sure you’re still allowing yourself to grieve.
Take Care of Yourself
While you’re grieving, there will be a number of physical and emotional symptoms that you’ll combat. During your period of mourning, remember to take care of yourself. Many who are dealing with the loss of a loved one have difficulty sleeping or experience a loss of appetite. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key to healing.
Besides sleeping, you’ll want to pick up other healthy habits to take care of yourself. If you have extra time on your hands, try learning to cook. Cooking can be incredibly beneficial, making it a valuable skill or hobby. You can also jog or walk your way to fitness, hit the road for a bit and take a much-needed vacation, or embrace some companionship from a dog or cat. Everyone grieves differently, so taking care of yourself will mean something different to each person.
Handling Grief with Your Family
The loss of a loved one is rarely felt alone. Often, the death of a family member sends shockwaves throughout one’s entire clan. Healing as a group can draw the family closer and bring a great deal of ease to the overall process. That’s why it’s vital you lean on each other during this time and do the following things.
Keep Communication Open
Your family can be an incredibly strong support group. They’re going through the same loss as you, and can understand and sympathize. While grieving, use this support group and share your feelings as you mourn. Talking about how you feel can be useful in sorting out your emotions, as well as getting them off your chest. The same can be said for other family members. Be there for your loved ones during this time, and they’ll do the same for you.
Spend Time Together
Getting together as a family is a great way to honor the memory of your loved one. You can plan a dinner, a picnic, or even just an evening together. Use this time to remember the person who passed, sharing stories or tributes. It doesn’t need to stop there, though, especially if your loved one left behind a spouse or children. Scheduling out a weekly meal or activity can help your family grow closer and keep yourselves busy.
Everyone Handles Grief Differently
It may seem incredibly frustrating to see a family member who doesn’t seem sad while the rest are mourning, but it’s important to remember that everyone grieves in their own way. Some may not outwardly weep, but they may be deeply depressed internally. If someone’s grief doesn’t match yours, don’t be upset. Don’t expect your personal method of mourning to be everyone’s style.
Seek Professional Help
Grief may be overwhelming, and if you ever feel this is the case, it may be worth seeking out professional help. There is no shame in seeking counseling. This is especially true if you’ve begun showing signs of clinical depression. It can be difficult to combat depression, especially in the wake of a death. Finding a professional to guide you through this tough time is a good start.
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Regardless, whether you have one big breakdown, a low simmer of sadness, or something between, your grieving is a personal journey. What ultimately helps you to heal will be different from what helps others. With these tips, we hope you’ll be able to mourn healthily and find ways to honor the memory of your loved one.
Ciência & Saúde Coletiva — Family dynamics during the grieving process: a systematic literature review
NCBI — Bereavement in adult life
This post was written in loving memory of Louise Lewis, who was the inspiration for several of the articles on this site and whose brave battle with illness proved that nothing can darken the shine of a strong spirit.