Grief: Coping With the Loss of a Loved One
If you live long enough, you’ll eventually have to deal with the death of a loved one. Everything that lives eventually dies, but just because death is natural doesn’t make it any easier to navigate.
Grief is a universal consequence of loss, but it is also a very individual experience.
Since everyone is likely to face this type of loss more than once in a lifetime, it’s worth the effort to understand the grief process and how to navigate it.
Grieve in your own way and at your own pace:
⦁ There are no rules. Everyone is unique in how they deal with grief. Some people are able to move on quite quickly, while others languish in distress. Some people seek out the comfort of others, while some people choose to be alone.
⦁ Avoid the belief that there is a designated process that you have to follow.
⦁ Allow others to help you. Many of us like to be stoic, or we simply don’t want to be a bother. But this might be a good time to accept some help. Allow your neighbor to run an errand for you. Let your nephew mow your grass. Focus on yourself and permit others to deal with the maintenance tasks of life for you.
⦁ Experience your feelings. Rather than distract yourself from your feelings, experience your feelings. Just sit with them and explore them. Allow yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling. They won’t go away until you’ve allowed them to express themselves.
⦁ Be patient. Grief can take time to run its course. How long does it take? It takes as long as it takes. There isn’t an established period of time for the duration of the grief process. Everyone is different but expect that it will take some time.
⦁ Avoid drugs and alcohol. It’s natural to want to distract yourself for part of each day. But there are better ways than drugs and alcohol. You already have a significant challenge in your life. You don’t need another one.
⦁ Make a list of healthy distractions that appeal to you. Exercise, cooking a healthy meal, watching your favorite movie, going for a walk, reading a book, taking a hot shower or bath, and writing are examples of healthy options.
⦁ Maintain your most enjoyable activities. Keep up with the activities you enjoy the most. This can be a positive distraction from your grief and can help to maintain some enjoyment and social interaction in your life.
⦁ Take care of your physical needs. People often ignore their physical needs during periods of grief. These physical needs can include grooming, clean clothes, exercise, sleep, and food. Give your body what it needs in order to be healthy.
⦁ Stick to a schedule. Rather than lying in bed all day, make a conservative schedule and stick to it. Take it easy on yourself but try to have a productive and enjoyable day.
⦁ Get professional help if you need it. While some people manage to find their way through grief without professional help, others do need help. There’s no shame in getting the help you require.
Few things are more challenging or stressful than dealing with the loss of a loved one. Everyone eventually dies and grief is the result for everyone left behind. Dealing with grief is a universal experience, but how it is experienced is very individual.
Deal with your grief in your own way and on your own schedule. Be willing to get help if you’re unable to successfully deal with this challenge alone.