When you lose a loved one, grief knocks you over no matter how strong you are. Here are 10 ways to cope with a difficult loss.
1) Feel your Feelings. Allow feelings to bubble up to the surface: shock, anger, denial, sadness, fear. Everyone’s grief is as individual as their fingerprints, so this order is not sacrosanct.
2) Understand that grief is messy. Grief is often three steps forward, two steps back. Good days and bad days are part of the deal. If you’re having a particularly good week, don’t be misled into thinking that you’re over the worst of it.
3) Don’t fight your emotions. Sit with whatever comes up. The fact that you’re grieving hard simply means you loved hard. Honor your grief instead of running away from it.
4) Know that grief has no timetable. Don’t be in a rush; don’t let others rush you. Grief is not like weight loss where you see a predictable result if you put in the work. Don’t judge or compare your grief with another’s.
5) Enlist the help of those you trust. Asking for help is not a reflection on your lack of independence. If it takes a village to raise a baby, why would it take any less effort when a loved one dies? When you ask a friend for help, you give them a gift. They feel like they’re invited to make a difference in your life. Assign chores like dog-walking, making dinner, doing laundry, and stocking up groceries.
6) Seek professional help if your struggle is hard. There is no shame in letting a professional help you sort through all the stuff that comes up as you’re grieving. Find a Grief group where the pain of grief is a shared experience. Your story may help another and someone else may help you with a fresh perspective.
7) Don’t feel guilty about being angry. A lot of people feel mad at God or their loved one for abandoning them and then feel guilty about feeling mad. Just remember you’re human and pain is pain. It’s okay to be mad as long as you seek help and find ways to resolve your feelings. Guilt does nothing but worsen an already bad situation.
8) Listen to your body. Understand that migraines, chest pains and insomnia are physical signs of grief and stress overload. Pay attention to your body’s signals, then take whatever action feels right. Some start to eat healthy. Some need sleep aids. Others take anti-depressants. Whatever you do, remember that there’s no substitute for inner healing. Do the inner work necessary to purge your grief.
9) Work out incompletions. Unfinished business in the form of things left unsaid or undone can take a huge toll during the grieving process. If you didn’t have a chance to work things out with your loved one, there are ways to address them so you can clear it and move on with a light heart.
10) Move from grief to gratitude. Instead of focusing on your loved one’s horrific last moments, think back to the memories that cause you to be grateful. Focus on what they meant to you, the times you shared, and the joys they ushered into your life. When you shift your focus thus, the sadness you feel will start to be tinged with gratitude.
I hope my post on “10 ways to cope with a difficult loss” offers you some solace on steps you can take to support yourself through a difficult time in your life. What Grief Needs From You may also help you.