One of the most difficult human experiences is losing a loved one and dealing with grief. Many people feel unsure how to cope with the pain of the loss. While at first it can feel overwhelming to try to adjust to life without your loved one, there are many ways to move forward.
Working through grief can take time, but it’s important to remember you’re not alone. Many people are there to support you. Here are a few strategies you can use to help you get through this difficult time:
It’s common for people to feel like they have to hide the way they’re feeling after a loss. They might not like sharing difficult emotions with those around them. However, it’s essential to express your feelings after losing a loved one. It helps process the emotions, and it can even lessen the pain.
One UCLA study found that labeling our emotions helps make them less intense. That’s why it’s important to identify what you’re feeling after a loss. While sadness is a common feeling after the death of a loved one, many people also experience anger, confusion, loneliness, and numbness. Whatever you’re feeling is valid, and it’s important to acknowledge it.
One way to express your feelings is to talk with a friend or family member. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking with someone close to you, you can speak with a therapist. It can also help to journal or simply express your feelings out loud to yourself.
After the death of a loved one, it can feel like your connection to that person is completely gone. However, there are ways to preserve the memory of your loved one and keep that connection alive. A memorial service after the death is one of the most common ways to do this, but there are many other things you can do to remember your loved one.
Some people like to gather written memories and photos from friends and family. You can also choose an annual date to celebrate your loved one, like a birthday or anniversary. This helps people maintain the connection for years to come. Many people also like to visit places that remind them of their loved one or participate in activities that their loved one enjoyed. Anything that keeps the memories close to you is a wonderful way to keep your connection.
Many people struggle to take care of themselves physically while dealing with grief, but it’s important to do your best to stay active, eat nutritiously, and keep up with your hygiene. While it might seem difficult to prioritize your health at a time like this, you’ll feel better emotionally when your physical needs are taken care of.
In addition to your physical health, try to make time for spending time with friends and participating in your hobbies. While you may not feel like it at first, these things can help you restore a sense of normalcy in your life. It’s also overwhelming to feel constant negative emotions, and participating in activities you love can bring you some happiness and provide you with a break from your grief.
You should never judge yourself for the things you’re feeling after a loss. Some people feel like they should move on more easily and others feel like they’re moving on too fast. But the truth is that every single person will process grief differently, and there are no wrong emotions during this time. Be compassionate with yourself, and remember that you’re doing your best during a tough time.
If you’re around others who are grieving, remember to be compassionate with them, as well. It’s likely your grieving process will look different from those around you, but remember that everyone else is managing the best they can. Dealing with your grief will be easier when you maintain your relationships with those around you, so don’t let small differences cause tension between you and those you care about.
The grieving process can be different depending on the type of loss. Each type of loss comes with its own unique challenges. Here are some ideas for dealing with different types of loss:
Short or Long-term Illness
While some illnesses are sudden and unexpected, others, like cancer, are long-term challenges. Losing a loved one from a long-term illness can be confusing because you might feel sadness and relief at the same time.
It’s common to feel relief that the loved one is not in pain anymore. Feeling relief does not mean you are not also grieving the loss. Remember to be compassionate with yourself, no matter what you’re feeling.
Death from a sudden illness can trigger anxiety in many people. Work with a professional mental health provider to manage anxiety or any other emotions caused by the loss of your loved one.
The loss of a loved one due to suicide can be especially challenging. Many people feel shock, confusion, and sometimes anger. This is sometimes referred to as complicated grief because it involves multiple emotions. It can be helpful to speak with other people who have also lost loved ones to suicide. A professional therapist can also guide you as you work through your grief.
One of the most difficult things about experiencing the death of a loved one from suicide is that it can trigger suicidal thoughts. If you’re having suicidal thoughts, you can always find help. Call the suicide hotline at 800-273-8255.
Addiction and Overdose
Losing a loved one to an overdose can be shocking and traumatic. It’s always important to remember that it’s not your fault. When someone loses their battle with addiction, it can feel overwhelming to manage the grief. But you can work through your grief, and the pain will get easier with time.
If you struggle with addiction yourself, a death can trigger a relapse. If you feel like you need extra support to avoid a relapse while grieving, reach out to a professional. Jackson House can help you find ways to manage your grief without turning to substance abuse.