Dealing with the emotions of losing a loved one can be very painful. In addition to experiencing the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance; you may need to cope with a roller coaster of intense emotions including, sadness, fear, rage, doubt, and pain. Even though these represent normal reactions to the loss of a loved one, these are still difficult emotions to experience. While there are many ways to grieve over a serious loss, and each individual may find relief in his or her own way, several coping methods can help.
Defined as “emotional suffering that occurs after a significant loss,” grief is normal and natural. In many instances, the more significant the loved one was, the more intense the grief. Moreover, the death of any loved one, whether spouse, child, parent, friend, or pet, can result in sorrow.
Grieving is an intensely personal experience. Many factors may have an impact on how you grieve: including your individual personality, coping style, faith, the nature of the loss, and your life experience. Healing will happen; however, you will have to let it happen in its own time, and the process cannot be hurried or forced. By focusing on two coping tips and integrating them into your daily routines, they will become the basis for other types of coping and healing agents; always be patient with yourself.
Seek Out Support
Support from empathetic friends and family will be the most important factor to promote emotional healing. While you may not be comfortable expressing strong emotions to everyone, seek the support of one or two close friends and perhaps attend a grief support group. Sharing your burden can make it easier to bear. Connecting with others promotes healing.
l Seek out family members and friends. Draw loved ones closer to you instead of avoiding them.
l Rely on your faith. Certain familiar mourning rituals can provide a significant amount of comfort, whether it is meditation, prayer, or attending church.
l Join a grief support group. Grief can make you feel alone and lonely, even at times when relatives and friends are nearby. Local hospitals, counseling centers, funeral homes, and hospices keep lists of active groups.
l Talk to a grief counselor or therapist. If the emotions seem to be too much to bear, seek out a professional with expertise in grief counseling.
Take Care of Yourself
During the grieving process, you may face feelings of emptiness, lethargy, and apathy. The loss of a loved one can deplete your emotional reserves and energy. You may even feel a bit selfish putting your own health and wellness first, yet the act of doing so will promote inner healing.
l Acknowledge your feelings and pain. Suppressing intense feelings or avoiding them will prolong the grieving process. Moreover, unresolved grief may develop into problems such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse, or other health problems.
l Express feelings in creative or tangible ways, such as keeping a journal, putting together a photo album of the one you lost, or becoming involved in an organization that was important to that person.
l Take care of your physical health. The mind has tremendous power over the body, and exercise has been shown to lift ones mood and feelings of satisfaction.
l Prepare in advance for grief triggers: including holidays, anniversaries, and other milestones.
Seek Professional Grief Counseling
Sometimes, grief can become overwhelming, and many people receive help from grief counseling professionals. Contact a professional if you:
l Feel life is not worth living.
l Blame yourself for the loss.
l Feel disconnected from friends and family or feel numb for more than several weeks.
l Find it difficult to trust again.
l Cannot perform typical daily activities.
Grieving is a natural way for the body and mind to manage through the loss of a loved one. Over time, the feelings of sadness will fade and be replaced with happy memories. Although life may never be quite the same, you will be able to continue on and embrace life in a new way.