Self, Health And Wellness

9 Ways To Cope With Grief After Someone You Love Dies

9 Ways To Cope With Grief After Someone You Love Dies

The death of a loved one, whether that be a family member or friend, is hard. The worst thing you can do is hold in your emotions.

But holding in your feelings of grief will only make you feel worse.

If you fear losing control and don't know what to do when someone dies, you are among many. You can only hold it together for a short time before you feel the strain.

RELATED: 6 Unexpected Stages Of Grief We Experience When Someone Dies

Avoiding grief is destructive.

It will make you sick. The longer you hold it in, the more it is going to hurt you.

What is grief, exactly?

According to Mayo Clinic, it is "a strong, sometimes overwhelming emotion for people regardless of whether their sadness stems from the loss of a loved one or from a terminal diagnosis they or someone they love have received."

Grief is a natural response to loss.

If you are willing to take the journey through the intense emotions and learn how to deal with grief, you will find healing.

Life will never return to the way it was before death, but you will find a new purpose to life.

Here are 8 ways to deal with grief, so you can heal after the death of a loved one.

1. Slow down and feel.

You are in despair. You might find it tempting to avoid your internal pain by keeping busy or using a drug to numb yourself.

But the only way toward healing is to slow down and feel your sadness, grief, and despair.

Create safe places to grieve. Find a room in your home that feels comforting. Connect with friends and family who will accept you as you are.

Do not be afraid to cry. Crying is a natural response to grief — it lets out all the emotional pain that you are holding inside.

2. Accept support.

Your friends, family, and colleagues will want to support you. You are not functioning right now at your best, so get all the help you need. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.

People will offer to support you in many ways from food, childcare, a listening ear, a hug, and maybe even financial help.

Remember, this is your time for help. You probably helped others in their grief and you will do it again. Receive assistance with grace. All you need to say are "yes" and "thank you."

3. Share stories.

One of the most powerful ways to celebrate the life of a loved one is to keep sharing the stories of how this person has impacted your life.

Sharing stories will help you to feel what is going on inside you. It will help you to laugh and cry. Over time, it will gradually help you to move on.

No relationship is perfect. Don’t pretend the person was a saint if they were abusive.

Even in the best of relationships, your emotions are mixed. If this person hurt you, find ways to let go so you don’t allow this person’s negativity to impact future relationships.

4. Journal.

If you love to write, journaling is a great way to get your feelings out in the open.

Journaling is also a great way to explore the complexities of your relationship with the person who died. It is normal to cry one moment and feel anger in the next.

You might find it helpful to write the deceased a letter. In the message, share with your loved one the good memories. Let them know what you appreciated about them.

If you have regrets, let them know. What would you have liked to have said and didn’t get around to it? If apologies are required, this is an excellent time to say that you are sorry.

If you felt hurt by this person, this is a good time to get on to paper describing how you were hurt. Then, it is time to let go. It is essential to get to the point that you will not allow the hurt to keep burning you in the future.

5. Take part in a ritual.

Many people don’t go to church these days. You may be among the many who don’t know any end-of-life rituals.

But fortunately, there is an increasing number of people who will offer a ritual to help you to say goodbye to your loved one. Check with your local funeral home to find who those people may be.

If you are part of a religious community, you will find many resources within your church, mosque, temple, or synagogue.

Bring family, friends, and colleagues together to say goodbye. You can have it in a hall, a pub, a community center, or a restaurant.

In the ritual, create space for people to say goodbye, to celebrate the life of the person, listen to music and sing, or whatever feels right.

It can be an informal gathering, like a wake, or it could be an organized program with different people speaking, a PowerPoint presentation of the person's life, music, thanksgiving, and a blessing of the ashes or body.

One thing to remember is that this ritual is for the people grieving. While you want to honor the deceased, it is even more important to acknowledge the needs of the living who are coming to say goodbye.

RELATED: 9 Ways To Move On From Grief & Heartbreak When It Feels Impossible

6. Take one small step a day.

Healing from grief is a process. It takes time and is different for everyone.

Make sure you do something nurturing for yourself each day.

Arrange to meet a friend for coffee. Sit and read in your favorite coffee shop. Go for a walk alone or with a friend. Listen to your favorite music. Watch your favorite movie.

Try making small changes in your home. You might want to re-arrange your furniture or move your paintings and prints around the house.

Making these changes can help you to acknowledge that your life has changed.

7. Go to a place that inspires you.

Where are your favorite places? Maybe it is a room in your home, a nearby park, a favorite coffee shop, beach, or art gallery.

Make sure you take the time to re-charge your energy in these inspiring places.

If at all possible, make a place in your home a sacred place when you need spiritual sustenance. Sometimes, all a room needs is a little ambiance such as soothing music and a candle.

8. Start new routines.

After the death of a loved one, it is essential to start new habits. If you used to do many activities with the person who died, think of other people you can invite more deeply into your life.

Create space for yourself to enjoy hobbies such as reading. Invite a friend or family member to join you for a meal.

Stay healthy and commit to doing some regular exercise such as yoga or Tai Chi on your own or in a group.

Commit to talking with a friend or family member every day. Promise yourself to get a professional massage once a month. Listen to quiet music before sleep. Find a club or class to join that will bring you together with people you identify as your tribe.

Find whatever you need to help you live your life to the fullest. Find routines that will honor you and help yourself to stay healthy and fulfilled.

9. Practice self-love.

You are your best friend. At times of loss, it is especially important to be kind to yourself. It is something you should be doing all the time.

Think of the many ways you can love yourself:

  • Eat well
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Find meaningful work
  • Listen to music that inspires you
  • Take time for yourself
  • Build friendships with people who accept you as you are
  • Exercise
  • Sing and dance
  • Read a good book
  • Keep learning

Your heart, body, and mind will light up when you focus on the activities that give you life and hope.

The more you love yourself will increase your capacity to love others. Thus, there is no shame in caring for yourself.

The death of a loved one is one of the most stressful experiences you will face in life.

Letting go of a person we loved is painful. Avoiding the pain will only put it off into the future. The more you repress the pain, the more excruciating it will be in the future.

Practice these nine steps towards healing, and you will begin the healing process.

For most people, healing takes at least one year. But, it will be different for each of us.

If you continue to struggle with the loss of your loved one, there is no shame in asking for help from a coach, counselor, psychologist, or religious leader.

Getting help shows that you have the wisdom to know when you need help. Getting help shows the rest of the world that you are strong.

RELATED: Feeling Stuck In The Stages Of Grief? Here Are 10 Coping Mechanisms To Help You Move On

Roland Legge is a life coach who offers coaching through REL Consultants for individuals, couples, families, and executives to help them to be the best they can be. For more information, please arrange for a free 30-minute discovery call by sending an email.

This article was originally published at REL Consultants. Reprinted with permission from the author.