Losing a loved one is never easy, whether it’s expected or not, and no matter if the person was young or old. Grief can feel like it’s gripping your throat and leave emptiness where there was warmth and love and a relationship that isn’t there anymore. The process is personal, heart wrenching, and different for everybody, but there can be moments of joy and discovery along the way. If you have recently lost someone and aren’t sure how to move forward, or even start processing your grief, here are a few things that can help you through it:
Ask for Support
If you have a safety net of friends and family, don’t be afraid to rely on them if they are able and willing to help with things like grocery shopping and light housekeeping, even cooking meals. If you find it easier to talk to people who are outside of the situation, therapy from a licensed counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist can be beneficial in many ways. Of course, therapy can be expensive with or without insurance, but there are free options to get the help you need. You might find that participating in bereavement support groups and interacting with other people who have faced similar losses might be a great asset to you and help you from feeling so alone. Most hospice programs include free grief counseling for the patient’s family members, and support groups abound in person and online. If need be, you will always be welcome at any AA or NA meeting, which usually take place in several locations throughout any given day.
Learning about the stages of grief can help you understand the symptoms you’re experiencing. When you know to expect mood swings, unexplainable periods of calm, and sudden bursts of rage or sobbing as just some of the ways grief manifests, it will be a lot easier to identify and develop positive coping skills. Recovery is not always a linear path with forward progress; you may regress, or find yourself in a pattern or stage of grief through which you thought you had already left behind. Without a little guidance, this can leave you feeling confused, ashamed, and even a little crazy at times.
Some survivors find it helpful to consult a clairvoyant medium, especially if the loss was sudden or traumatic. Contact with your loved one can provide reassurance and give you the opportunity to say goodbye if you didn’t get the chance. It can also serve to help you navigate this new stage in your relationship, making it a new beginning rather than an end. You can also: create a memorial, write a letter to the person, or hold a celebration of life ceremony.
Remember, even though it’s called “closure,” these activities won’t likely be the end of the grieving process; it’s more of a demarcation line to begin letting go of denial and bargaining, or “what-if,” scenarios that can prevent the mind from accepting a loved one’s passing.
Take Your Time
Everyone grieves differently; some people intuitively know to slow down and attune to their needs during a crisis, while others are wracked with guilt if they even think of setting aside time for themselves. Some people truly grieve best if they keep busy and work; others may need to take it easy and allow themselves extra time and TLC to heal. If that’s you, give yourself the grace to falter, break down, and vent (in a safe space) when you need to. Build unstructured time into your schedule to take inventory of the basics: Have you showered? Eaten as much as you normally would? Sat out in the sunshine in the last few days? Learn to practice self-care, even if that means finding catharsis in watching sad movies with a box of tissues and a tub of ice cream.