May 28, 2021
At some point, everyone experiences the death of a loved one. While the grief in the immediate aftermath can feel crushing, it’s important to remember that these feelings are entirely normal. There are many ways to deal with feelings of bereavement, but it’s important to do so in a manner that’s healthy and allows you to continue moving forward with your life.
Dealing with loss is a journey that takes time. While moving on with your life is critical, it’s by no means the first step. Nor does it mean that you forget the person you lost. Here are five healthy ways to help manage that pain:
Take the time to mourn. That may involve public rituals and celebrations, remembrance ceremonies, or just taking time to process their loss yourself. You may cry, feel depressed, or experience physical symptoms, like loss of appetite. It’s important to feel these emotions; suppressing them or ignoring your needs can have long-term consequences, such as substance abuse.
You may experience the feeling of grief in five stages. These reactions may not occur in a specific order (and some may not occur at all), but prepare to feel denial and disbelief at first, followed by feelings of anger, bargaining, depression and sadness, and eventually acceptance. Knowing that each of these phases is normal, and letting them happen, is critical to reaching the point where you can accept a loss.
Remember that you are not the only person experiencing grief. The support of others is critical, and you shouldn’t be afraid to seek it. Funerals and similar rituals bring people together, and taking the time to continue that healing process by speaking to others is helpful. Even if you don’t feel like talking, just being around others who knew your loved one can help you process the loss.
There’s no set timetable for how long it takes to grieve someone. Depending on your personality, how close you were to the person who passed, and other factors, it can take days, weeks, or longer to accept a loss. Don’t pressure yourself to “get over it.” Take time to feel your loss, and try to engage in other healthy activities that make you feel good, while allowing yourself time to come to terms.
At the darkest moments of grief, it’s important to remember what’s on the other side of these feelings: the life your loved one would want you to live. Try to motivate yourself to exercise, sleep, and eat well. Think about the things in your life that your lost loved one has given you, and accept that you must live in the present.
Finally, it’s important to remember there’s no magic point where the feeling of loss goes away. Birthdays, anniversaries, or even hearing a favorite song can trigger feelings of grief. Those feelings are part of honoring the memory of your loved one, and can still be part of acceptance. Bereavement is not easy, but embracing the journey is critical to living the rest of your life the way your loved one would have wanted.