Coping with the Loss of a Loved One

Grief is a natural reaction to loss. When coping with grief, the goal isn’t to “get over” the loss but to encourage that energy to move through you.  Here are a few therapeutic ways to approach grief:

  1. Best you can, allow yourself to feel. Grieving can be intensely painful, so it’s only natural to want to escape or suppress those feelings. These reactions are ok in moderation, though grief can’t be avoided forever. (Human Resources put together a hilarious representation of this concept). Give yourself permission to slow down and follow this guide on how to let your emotions flow.
  2. Maintain a connection with your loved one. Write to them. Do an activity that you’d often do with them. Visit that place they’ve always wanted to go to. Rituals like these can provide a sense of control and meaning, which have been shown to be effective.
  3. Keep it real with your support system. It’s common to feel some discomfort when discussing grief, both for the bereaved and those supporting the bereaved. The bereaved may feel pressure to appear strong. The supporter may struggle with not knowing what to say. These are normal experiences. Remember that grief is a natural reaction to loss; there’s no need to put up a front. When discussing your grief with a loved one, consider letting them know that there’s no pressure to respond a certain way, and request what you need (I.e. A listening ear, a hug, etc.).
  4. Share stories. If possible, connect with people who also knew your loved one. Sharing your experiences with them, as well as hearing their stories, can be incredibly healing. It’s especially fun to be able to learn more about your loved one through other perspectives (I.e. Talking to your late father’s college buddies).
  5. Consider seeing a counselor or joining a support group. Especially if you’ve been struggling to find relief for a while, it may be beneficial to seek professional support. On top of missing them, the death of a loved one can also bring less pleasant reflections to the surface (I.e. regrets, resentments, etc.), and a mental health professional can help you to process those experiences.

As mentioned, there’s no “solution” to grief. The sadness you feel from your loss is likely due to loving them deeply, which is a painfully beautiful thing! Intense emotions like these are a reminder that you are alive, and that they would have wanted you to live your life to the fullest.

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