Four Tips for Coping with the Loss of a Loved One
Grieving the loss of a loved one is arguably one of the most painful life experiences anyone will ever go through. Whether someone close to you is suddenly taken from your life without warning or you’ve had time to make plans before their death due to prolonged illness really doesn’t matter – for those of us who are “left behind,” the agony comes either way. There is no one-size-fits-all approach for dealing with grief, and what may be an effective coping strategy for one individual may not be the right fit for another. However, there are many ways of handling grief that have continuously helped people overcome it. Here are a few you may wish to try:
Try to plan for the unknown in advance as much as possible. Having important conversations with those closest to you, although unpleasant in nature, will ultimately be extremely helpful should you lose someone unexpectedly. For example, knowing whether someone close to you wishes to be buried or cremated (and making sure that decision is legally documented) will keep you from having to make the decision for them in the event of sudden loss. In fact, this is something we should practice ourselves, too: Create a will with your final wishes so that your grieving next of kin won’t have to make tough choices while coping with their loss.
Don’t feel as though you must get through this time on your own. This article from the University of California, Davis Medical Center points out that there are many channels of finding support, whatever your needs or comfort level [click here for article]. If it feels too painful talking to friends or family members about your loss, individual or group counseling might be helpful for you. If you draw strength from your religious beliefs, talking to a spiritual leader or practicing your religion on your own may bring you comfort.
Get some exercise. Although many of us feel like hiding from our grief by sleeping the day away, curling up on the couch and getting lost in a television program, or just generally isolating ourselves, incorporating some activity into our day can actually naturally produce feel-good chemicals that may help ward off depression. If the thought of going to a crowded gym seems like too much to bear, a solo sport like running or swimming can make a positive difference while granting you the serenity of quietly coping on your own.
Try to be patient with yourself and others. As much as we would like to hurry through the grief process, there is no hard-and-fast rule about how long it will take, so allow yourself as much time as you need. This can be frustrating, especially if it feels like others are moving on ahead of us, but it’s important to remember that everyone will have a different experience when they lose someone. It’s also helpful to remain patient with others. As this resource points out, sometimes people say all the wrong things in their honest attempts to support us. Try to keep in mind that most of the time people have only the best intentions, even if the things they say feel inappropriate.
As many of us have come to realize, there is no one way to cope with grief. Actually, there is no right or wrong way to do so. Try to remember to allow yourself to feel whatever your heart is telling you to feel – even if only for a moment – and try to have patience as much as possible. You can make it through this time, and in fact, you will.