“In our hearts, we all know that death is a part of life. In fact, death gives meaning to our existence because it reminds us how precious life is.” —MentalHealthAmerica.net
When someone you love dies, you’re experiencing “life’s most stressful event,” with the word “bereavement” literally meaning to be “deprived by death.” When this happens, you will likely experience a range of emotions, even if the death was expected. This can include numbness, denial, disbelief, confusion, shock, sadness, yearning, anger, humiliation, despair and grief.
So, how do you handle these feelings? Here are six ways to cope with grief.
#1 Surround Yourself with People Who Care
This can include friends and family members, and it can also include support groups consisting of people who are also experiencing loss. While you’re with caring people, share your feelings in ways that feel right to you. This can help you in coping with grief.
#2 Take Good Care of Yourself
After you lose someone close to you, you may be tempted to dwell on the past. And, although it’s normal to think about your loved one and to remember good times (challenging ones, as well), you need to make the effort to focus on the present, too, which includes eating well, getting enough rest, seeing your doctor as needed and avoiding any temptations you may have to use alcohol and/or medications to try to numb your feelings of grief.
#3 Let Others Help You
People who love you will likely try to help you. They might, for example, tell you when they notice behavioral changes in you that are concerning. They might spend extra time with you, so you don’t feel as lonely—or they may give you extra time and space to process your feelings. If a friend or family member is doing something especially helpful, let that person know.
Conversely, if friends are giving you extra space, for example, but what you really need is a visitor or two, let them know that. WebMd.com shares common ways to help when older adults lose a loved one. Are there some ideas in this article that you’d find especially comforting? Share them with people who love you.
#4 Postpone Major Decisions, Whenever Possible
Grieving takes a lot of patience. So, give yourself time to grieve, and avoid selling your home, for example, or quitting your job unless it’s absolutely necessary. You can make major life decisions much better when you’re feeling more like yourself again. Take time to adjust to your loss and to your new normal.
#5 Consider Grief Counseling
Talking to a counselor, one on one, can help you work through your sorrow. So can therapy groups. To find what’s best for you, talk to your doctor and/or to friends and family members who have gotten counseling for grief in the past—or who are in the process of counseling now. You can also check with your church or synagogue, local hospitals and/or hospices for recommendations. Remember that it’s a sign of strength—not weakness—when you ask for help. The National Institute on Aging offers more tips on coping with grief.
#6 Take Charge of Your New Life
Another article by the National Institute on Aging, one that focuses on losing a spouse, shares that it “helps to have things to do every day. Whether you are still working or are retired, write down your weekly plans.” These can include walking with friends, joining an exercise class or bowling league, babysitting your grandchildren, visiting the library, volunteering and more.
Each person is unique, and so is each relationship. So, it isn’t surprising that pathways to coping with grief are also unique. Find what works for you and, to repeat advice given earlier, be patient with yourself and with the grieving process.