Losing a loved one can be a very stressful experience. It can affect you physically, psychologically, and emotionally, and it can prevent you from living a normal life. Therefore, it is important that you find a way to cope with the loss of a loved one.
What to Expect
When a loved one passes away, you may find yourself having to deal with a variety of emotions that you have never experienced before. Upon receiving news that your loved one has departed from the world, you may experience a feeling of numbness, and this will be followed by various emotional states, such as denial, disbelief, confusion, sorrow, yearning, anger, despair, humiliation, and guilt. It is natural to experience such emotions, especially if your departed loved one means a lot to you. Time will heal, and you will find that it is easier to accept the loss as time passes.
Mourning a Loved One
Mourning can be a very long process. It does not stop after the funeral ceremony or after friends and relatives offer their condolences. It is a personal thing, and it can last for years. You should not hide your feelings or try to deny the fact that your loved one has passed away. You will feel better after you cry or express your grief in words. Grief may lead to physical conditions such as loss of appetite, insomnia, fatigue, stomach pain, and intestinal problems, as well as emotional reactions such as anxiety, extreme depression, and suicidal contemplations.
Dealing with a Major Loss
Depending on your relationship with the departed, you will have different emotional reactions. Loss of a child will often result in a feeling of injustice, because of unfulfilled ambitions as well as pointless suffering. You may also feel that you could have done something to prevent the death, even if you could not. The death of a spouse can change the entire structure of the family. Other than feeling grief-stricken, you may also start to worry about your new responsibility as a single parent, especially if your spouse is the breadwinner. You may have to seek legal advice on what to do after your spouse’s death. Elderly people who lose a spouse will likely be extremely depressed because they have lost a life companion, and they may experience a great sense of loneliness.
Suicides can also cause tremendous psychological and emotional distress. If you lose a loved one to suicide, you may feel guilty, angry, and even shameful. It is also possible that you will hold yourself responsible for the suicide.
In each instance the way an individual deals with their personal loss will vary. For many people the first few days or weeks after a death of a spouse or child they may be surrounded with friends and family to comfort them. Instead of grieving however they may end up busying themselves with making sure everyone else is taken care of, being sure funeral arrangements are made, and any number of other things to keep them busy and they may end up not truly feel the loss of their loved one until the friends and family return to their daily lives. It is then that their own personal grieving process many begin.
One idea for dealing with your loss is to go for daily walks in the morning. Set a specific time and set your alarm. This insures that you don't sleep through your walking time and gets you out of bed doing something healthy. Many people find routine comforting and walking is a great opportunity to be alone with your feelings. Another idea is to keep a journal on hand. Write down or sketch all your thoughts. They don't have to make sense or be coherent, no one is going to see the journal but you. Carry it with you when you are able so you can pull it out at any time.
Living with Grief
No matter how old you are your personal grieving process may last much longer than anticipated. The important thing is to not let your grief control your life. Don't expect that the pain will ever go away completely. You will always miss them and always love them. Years may go by where the sting of losing a person so close to you is still as sharp as ever. Holidays and family gatherings may be especially difficult and it's at these times it is important to share your feelings with a relative, friend, or counselor. Bottling up your emotions can be dangerous and self destructive, making it harder to heal.
There are a number of things that you can do to overcome your grief. You can seek the company of friends or relatives who can offer consolation, or join support groups that consist of people who are also trying to cope with loss. Express your emotions freely when you meet these people. Make sure that you take care of your physical health, because an unhealthy body can contribute to further emotional distress. Do not resort to alcohol or drugs to relieve your pain. Come to terms with the loss of your loved one and continue living a normal life. If you feel that your grief is unbearable, consult a psychologist or a counselor who is qualified in helping people overcome grief.
Helping Others Grieve
If you have friends or relatives who lost a loved one, you can do something to help them overcome their grief too. First of all, you have to encourage them to relate the emotional experiences that they are going through. Listen to them and show them that you sympathize with their pain. You can also help them do household chores or run errands. Let them know that they can call you anytime if they need someone to talk to. Remember that grieving is different for everyone so be sensitive if their process takes longer than expected. If the emotional depression is too great, you can suggest that they seek professional assistance. If you notice after awhile that they aren't returning to their normal routines, don't be afraid to push a little. They may be upset with you at first, but a daily phone call to make sure they got out of bed and got on with their lives may be just what they need.
If you have the right support and attitude, you will overcome your grief eventually. After some time, you will find that you are able to think of your departed loved one in a positive way, and cherish the wonderful moments that you shared with him or her. The pain will never be completely gone, and there are things that will forever remind you of the one you lost, the important thing is to remember the positive memories you shared.
- Emotional Reactions to Loss
- Coping with Grief and Loss
- Dealing with Loss (pdf)
- Dealing with Loss and Grieving
- Coping with the Loss of a Loved One<
- Coping with Loss
- Guide to Grief After Loss of Loved One
- Grief and Bereavement
- Coping with Bereavement
- Bereavement Care
- Medical Bills
- Dealing with Bereavement
- When a Family Grieves
- Grief Support After Death of a Child
- Coping with Suicide Loss
- Support for Bereavement and Grief
- Bereavement Support Group
- Community of People Dealing with Grief and Loss
- International Work Group on Death, Dying, and Bereavement
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