Coping with Grief and life after the loss of a loved one
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Life After Loss
Unfortunately at some point in life we will all know the pain of losing someone.
Life after the loss of a loved one can be very difficult, it can seem like you will never feel happy again, or that you will never know how to live your life without your loved one. You will learn to cope, it just takes time. Will it ever be easy? Probably not, but it will not always feel so heavy.
There is no set program to getting over loss. And the loss of a loved one won't always feel the same. It will be different for a grieving parent, different for a spouse, close family, for a friend, or even if you've lost a pet. Circumstances of how they passed will also change your feelings and views on life. You won't be the same person you were before.
Here are some tips and suggestions to help you cope throughout the stages of grief. My hope is that you will find some sense of peace from this article, and that you will reach out for the help and support you need.
Some of these suggestions may help. Use what works for you, leave what doesn't.
- Surround yourself with supportive individuals that can help you cope. Support groups often help.
- Seek out a counselor or therapist if you feel it's needed.
- Don't push yourself. When you feel you need space, alone time, or just are beat down, take time off. Ask for help.
- Journal. Writing out feelings helps to deal with emotions, or find another outlet to be creative.
- Seek religious support if you find it helps.
- Meditate and spend time in prayer.
- Allow yourself to take time off from grieving.
- Focus on mental and physical health.
- Practice mindful awareness and being in one moment at a time.
- Forgive yourself, often we internalize blame.
- Allow plenty of time for selfcare
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Honor your feelings
You do not have to justify how you feel. There are so many circumstances surrounding loss that can send you into a whirlwind of emotions. Regardless of how our loved one passed away, it is normal to be angry; blame god, blame others, feel guilt, and feel sadness. No matter what you feel, it is not wrong. The human heart is a strange thing to navigate, and healing always takes time. Many people won't be able to understand how you are feeling unless they've walked in your shoes, and it still won't be the same even if they have. Circumstances surrounding how your loved one passed will not be identical to someone who's loss may mirror your own. At times family or friends will offer advice you didn't ask for, believe in, or want. Some may say "you should be over it by now", "God has a plan, which must be why they passed", you do not have to feel bad for not wanting their comments or advice, nor do you have to take them. Even though people often mean well, or don't know what to say to make you feel better, you can just tell them you do not wish to speak about it.
If you find talking or sharing with certain individuals causes you more pain then healing, stop communicating with them. Anyone that truly loves you will not be insulted by this. Most people have the best intentions when trying to be supportive, but that doesn't mean it is the kind of support you need, or need at this time. This includes counselors or spiritual advisers. We all have opinions on life and death, and you don't need to agree with everyone giving you advice. You don't need to feel guilty about this. Honor what you feel, even if that means that other relationships take a backseat for awhile. Some relationships may even be completely discarded, don't worry about it. You are not selfish for needing to take care of yourself.
Through-out this process and life change it is really important to surround yourself with people you feel supported by.
USA support information and Grief Recovery Helpline: 800-445-4808
Feeling lonely with your grief is unfortunately normal. You may find you cycle through emotions, and that you feel misunderstood and alone. There is no "one size fits all" program, sequence, or pattern to get over a loss. Sometimes you may never get over it. You don't have to. There are no rules with trauma or heart break. You are not required to justify how you feel to anyone. You don't have a deadline to meet to "get over it", so be gentle with yourself. Honor yourself, honor your feelings no matter how often they come up. But don't allow your loneliness to isolate long term. Reaching out for the love, compassion, and sharing others have to offer will reduce feeling lonely.
It's okay to spend time that you need alone, but it will help to also seek out supportive people and supportive outlets. Isolating yourself long term is not going to be healthy. If your family is understanding and able to help you, by all means lean on them. But sometimes that is not possible, so when it isn't, consider joining a grief support group. I can assure you, you are not alone with how you feel. Yes you may process your feelings differently then someone else, but you are not alone. Local religious networks offer support for free. If you find religion is not a fit for you, consider groups that are not associated with organized religion. There are also many social networking sites, such as Facebook that offer endless types of support groups. Not only will you benefit from the interaction and sharing, but you will also help others cope with their loss, and may even make some really good friends in the process.
Private therapy sessions, hypno therapy and counselors may be beneficial. Trusted mediums and spiritualist churches can also offer services you may not be aware of.
There is no wrong way to go about getting the support you need. Be willing to try anything, if it works great, if not leave it and don't feel bad about it. Take what helps and what resonates with you, and leave the rest.
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Take time out
Allow yourself permission to process all that you are going through. This may mean different things for different people, but all of it is okay. Take time off. Take time off from your grief. Grief even by itself can become completely exhausting.
Allow yourself to try and feel forgiveness regardless of the circumstances. Unless you murdered someone, the passing of a loved one is NOT YOUR FAULT. Death is as natural as life, and we don't get to control how long someone we love is with us.
Call off work if needed, eat well, over sleep; take long walks, take long baths or showers, eat comforting food. Take good care of yourself and don't feel guilty about it. The loss of a loved one affects mind, body and spirit, do the best you can to care for each part of yourself. It is going to take time, and some moments may be easier than others.
Ask for help. If you can't cook and have obligations to do so, order out or ask someone to help you. Same thing goes for chores, don't worry if your house is not spotless, let it go, or delegate the chores to someone else. You are not super human nor do you have to be.
We are not the same person we were before a loss. Sometimes it may take all the effort you have just to get through a day. You may be fatigued, sometimes loss can make us feel as if we've aged 20 years. It's very important for you to care for yourself the best you can, and when you can't ask for help.
Try something creative
Many times therapy isn't about just talking, although talk therapy and group therapy will help. Therapy comes in many different forms. Writing can help you process how you feel, consider starting a journal. A journal can help keep your thoughts out of your head and still validate your feelings. They are also private, so it's not something you need to share with everyone. Anything creative can get you into a state of focused relaxation which can help sort the feelings you have. Draw, paint, color, put on music you enjoy. If you really feel up to it, make a bucket list, take a class, it can be anything you want. Do something creative in memory of your loved one or and activity that you know they wanted to do.
Therapy isn't always about writing or drawing. Keep a routine the best you can manage. Humans are creatures of habit. If you can return to work, do so, even if it feels like a distraction it is something we are used to. Familiar routines help us manage emotions. Organize something, putting things in order gives us a feeling of stability and control over our lives. Even if it is as simple as organizing a pantry or closet.
Plan something, this has the same effect as organizing. Planning gives a goal, and some hope. It doesn't have to be anything huge, plan a small gathering or party, or even a short weekend vacation. Although you may feel guilt to carry on without them, your loved one does not want you to stop living the live you have.
Read a favorite book, reading is a great way to temporarily escape your immediate surroundings, it's okay to take breaks from grief.
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Medications and physical healing options
Grief can and will affect our physical bodies. PTSD is not imagined. We may wake up after loss and appear to have aged decades. This can be like an internal war, affecting our physical and spiritual bodies. If you are experiencing PTSD, you will want the help of medical professionals or intervention. There is nothing wrong with this.
Anti depressants can have proper use to temporarily help with coping. Use them if you need to. A medical professional will be able to evaluate your particular situation and help incorporate a plan to help you feel better. There are many options for medications and sometimes we need to try a few to find what works.
Nutritional therapy will also be beneficial. Stress can cause us to lose appetites or over eat. Getting proper nutrition is going to be very important. B vitamins are particularly important for stress. Vitamin B3 has been shown to help with depression, addiction and anxiety. If you are not eating properly you will feel worse. Speak with your general practitioner, a nutritional, or naturalist that can help alleviate some of the physical issues you may be experiencing.
Any type of healing modality that will help you feel better should be considered. Aromatherapy, reiki, massage, hypno therapy. Try them all, use what works.
Don't turn to self medicating with drugs or alcohol. It can be tempting but this will make things much worse. If you are concerned about using substances to cope or feel that you are suicidal please call someone right now. National Suicide Prevention LifelineCall 1-800-273-8255Available 24 hours everyday
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Things will come up when you lose someone that can knock you right over. You may hear a song that reminds you of them. You may be going about your day and suddenly get hit with a memory, or a flash back. These things can make you feel like you're right back at square one with the pain you feel. Often all you can do is grasp onto anything to keep you staying afloat. Don't forget to breath, it's a simple thing to forget, but these times can literally take the breath right out of you. These times will come, and they will come in waves. The best thing to do is focus on your support network when this happens. Keep people you trust and can count on, on speed-dial. Try to focus on your happy memories and the love you have for the person that is no longer here.
Unfortunately death is a natural part of life, and no one gets to escape from it. Sometimes the best thing to do is just allow yourself to feel each and every part of it. Grief is not something to be endured totally alone or in isolation. Reach out for help, and if you feel stuck it's even more imperative to reach out.
Life may never be the same, but with time you will be okay, and you will manage. Remember that your loved one will forever be in your heart, and that all of our moments are lived one second at a time. Coping with grief is often managed just one day at a time. Be kind to yourself.