When a loved one dies you will likely feel overwhelmed with grief and experience a wide range of emotions. Here we discuss some helpful ways to cope with the death of a loved one and commence your emotional recovery.
Even when death is expected, the death of a loved one can bring a range of emotions that might include:
These emotions are normal and common reactions after we lose someone we love. You may struggle to cope with the intensity and duration of these emotions. You may question your mental wellbeing. But be assured that these emotions are healthy and relevant while you go through the grieving process. They can help you to come to terms with your loss. Over time, the pain of losing a loved one eases and allows you to go on with your life.
Remember: It takes time to fully absorb the impact of a major loss. You never stop missing your loved one, but the pain eases after time and allows you to go on with your life. – Mental Health America – Bereavement and Grief
Ways to cope with the death of a loved one
- Allow yourself to feel pain and any other emotion and do not let others tell you how you should feel.
- Allow yourself time to process your loss and grief without placing any expectations or pressure on yourself to feel better. Accept your own way of experiencing emotions and your own way of healing without judgement or comparing yourself to anyone else.
- Acknowledge your feelings and let yourself cry. Remember it is all a part of healing.
- Talk about your loss and express your sadness without feeling the need to protect those around you. It can help to share your emotions with people who have lost a loved one.
- Self-compassion and forgiving yourself for what you may or may not have said to your loved one is important in the healing process.
- Remember your loved one’s life, not just their death. Share your memories about your loved one with family or friends. You can move on with your life and still keep the memory of your loved one as an important part of you.
- During this difficult time, taking care of yourself is more important than ever before. The pain of a major loss can leave you feeling demotivated and lacking in energy. Eat well and keep physically active. You can enhance your physical wellness with massages, hot baths, or naps.
- Avoid drinking alcohol or taking drugs as they delay your emotional recovery and can cause new problems.
- Take time out from grieving. Give yourself moments of engaging in activities you enjoy; listen to music, read a good book, or go out for dinner or to the cinema.
- Express your feelings in a creative way. Write a journal about your loved one, keep a photo album or scrapbook celebrating the life of your loved one, write a letter saying all that you did not get a chance to say to your loved one or involve yourself in a cause or organisation that was important to your loved one.
- Strong emotions can return during special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries or during the holidays. Plan ahead and mark these occasions as you used to with your loved one or start new traditions to honour the memory of your loved one.
- Join a support group. Grief can make you feel alone. Sharing your sadness with others who have experienced similar losses can help and comfort you.
- Talk to a therapist or grief counsellor if your pain is hard to cope with. An experienced therapist can help you work through intense emotions.
> American Cancer Society – Coping with loss
Seek immediate help when:
- You are unable to perform the daily normal activities
- You have persistent grief
Losing a loved one can change a person’s life. Grief, when experienced fully with the proper understanding, good handling and availing of resources when needed, will become bearable with time.