When someone we love dies it can be seem impossible to adjust. Our minds do not truly understand how to accept the idea that someone exists one day and is gone the next, never to return. We can be confused or frustrated by our reactions and not know what is normal. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind to help you to get through it:
- Express your feelings. The longer that you keep your feelings in, the longer they will stay with you. You may be surprised to find yourself being angry, sad, numb and so much more. Getting Past The Past
- Give yourself time. It takes different people different lengths of time to grieve. This can be affected by the circumstances of your loss as well, i.e., if there was a lingering illness vs. a sudden death. Just because someone else got through their immediate grief in a month does not mean that you have to get there that quickly, too.
- Forgive yourself. It is difficult to be the one left behind and you do not have to punish yourself for still being here. Forgive yourself for everything you did not do or say before they were gone.
- Continue with normal life. The normalcy of life may feel strange in the face of your loss, however, that same normalcy is what will help you to move forward. When you find yourself not thinking about them it does not mean that you are being disloyal, it only means that you are still living.
- Take care of yourself. You still need to eat, sleep, exercise, take your medications and avoid unhealthy coping like alcohol or drugs. If you don't care for your body, your mind will be more vulnerable to pain.
- Give yourself a break. Grief can be exhausting. Allow yourself to do distracting and even fun things. The intensity of your feelings is too much for the mind to sit with and have no respite. You need to be taken care of in many ways and taking a mental break helps your mind and body.
- Ask for help. Be willing to ask, even if you feel you are a burden. Let the people you are asking help of be the judge of what is or is not too much for them to offer.
- Memorialize. Remember your loved one in a special way: plant a tree, write a letter, hold a remembrance gathering, make a scrapbook, paint a picture or involve yourself in a cause or activity that was close to them.
- Address material reminders. When you are ready, allow yourself to move forward, which may include such painful things as cleaning out closets or selling/dividing belongings. Your loved one is in your heart not in those material possessions. Holding onto them can keep you stuck in your pain. Of course, there are some mementos that can give warm feelings of remembrance, too. It's about having balance.
- Prepare for anniversaries. This includes their birthday and date of death, as well as holidays, wedding anniversaries, first date anniversaries and any other significant dates. Recognize that these dates are approaching and plan to be somewhere or with someone to help you get through the difficult day (or days).
There is no blueprint for how to cope with a loss. All we can really do is pay attention and not put undue pressure on ourselves. If you find that you need help in your ability to do any of these things please let yourself reach out for help. Honor those you love by remembering them and continuing to live.