Coping with Grief and Loss

Coping with Grief and Loss

The loss of a loved one is a challenging and stressful emotional experience. We’ve put together some things to keep in mind when in the midst of processing a loss.

  • There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Just as all relationships are unique, the process of coping with the loss of a loved one is different for each of us. There might be times when you think of the person often, or other days when they are less present in your mind. Your heart can feel heavy one moment and free the next. Keep in mind that these ups and downs are normal, and you don’t need to fit your grief into a mold, or remember your loved one a certain way. Do whatever feels right for you, and try to refrain from judging your emotional responses or your grieving process. Similarly, there is no set amount of time that it should take you to “get over” it.
  • Notice, acknowledge, and label your emotions. An important step in the grieving process is to identify the emotions that you are experiencing. They may vary on a day-to-day basis, and it’s OK if you have mixed feelings. There may be times that you feel a sense of relief to see your loved one not suffering, times when you are angry that they’re gone, or frustrated that it hurts so much not to have them any more. Those are all valid emotions. Nothing you may feel is “wrong”. Let yourself notice what you are feeling. Let yourself feel the emotion, without trying to push it away, explain it, justify it, or make it end. Emotions will come and go, and you will get through them.
  • Make an effort to fill the gap left by your loved one. It can be helpful to look for alternative places to get what you got from that person. That might mean developing new friendships, or opening up about certain experiences or emotions with different people, exploring new hobbies, or even journaling thoughts or things you would tell the person if you had the chance. Depending on how close you were with the person and the role they played in your life, filling the gap that they left can take time, and sometimes never happens completely. But you might find that, despite this challenge, you are able to be experiences moments of joy, feel fulfilled, and move forward with some sense of peace.

 

We also have some practical tips that may also be helpful to remember while you are working through the loss of a loved one.

  • Take good care of yourself. This may sound simplistic, but remember to continue to engage in basic good self-care, like eating well (and regularly), getting exercise, and making sleep a priority. Having these cornerstones in place will help you better manage your emotions as you grieve.
  • Don’t make any major decisions in the early days after your loss. Though some decisions will be unavoidable, it’s better not to make a hasty decision to change jobs or move while you are grieving. Give yourself some time to process your feelings and see what your life feels like before making a major change or decision.
  • Get support from others. Whether it’s with a support group of others who have had similar losses, with friends or family, or with a professional, getting support from others can help ease some of your burden. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.