The death of a friend or family member can be both devastating and debilitating. Well-meaning consolations that, “They’re in a better place” or, “You’ll get over it eventually” often only serve to make the loss more painful and make a grieving person feel like they’re crazy for being so upset. Grief is perhaps the most difficult emotion we have to deal with, and the grieving process cannot be rushed or skipped. If you’re suffering with grief, here are some things you can do to cope with your loss and eventually bounce back:
Go to the Funeral
Many people avoid funerals, thinking they’ll be too painful or morbid. But funerals are important rituals that can help people move past denial and accept the loss. Though this can be painful, the funeral can also be a cathartic experience that allows you to grieve in a supportive environment with others who are also grieving.
Many people grow up learning that it’s a sign of weakness to cry or feel sad, and oftentimes when someone we love dies, we may try to stay strong for family, children, or other people who are suffering. But allowing yourself to fully grieve in the days following the death can help you to really face the loss. Don’t be ashamed to walk around sobbing periodically for a few days. Crying is a powerful action that actually helps to release pent up stress. Perhaps the most important part of the grieving process is actually grieving, so don’t fool yourself into staying strong. Allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling.
Keep Memories Alive
I was very close to all four of my grandparents, and each of their deaths was a devastating loss. They’ve been dead for a decade now, but I still talk about them almost daily. Sharing memories of loved ones who have died allows their memory to live on in a positive fashion. Especially in the weeks and months following the funeral, share funny stories and pearls of wisdom from your dead loved one. Perhaps the most difficult part of the death of someone you love is accepting the fact that they’re not going to be a part of your daily life anymore. But if you keep their memory alive, they can continue to be a part of your life in a small way. Moreover, by continuing to talk about the person you love, you are able to fully recognize the contribution they made in your life and feel gratitude for the times they were with you.
In addition to sharing memories with others, it can be helpful to gather pictures and write down memories. Too often we forget important moments in our lives, but by writing things down as you remember them, you’ll be able to fully remember your loved one and the impact they made on your life.
Keep A Small Token
Having a small object that reminds you of your loved one can, in a strange way, be incredibly comforting. Hold on to a meaningful gift they gave you, a photo of the two of you together, or an item they left for you in their will. Years down the road, seeing the object again is likely to make you feel happy about the person’s presence in your life instead of sad about the loss.
Know That Grief Takes Time
Grief is a long process, and there will be times during which you feel better followed by times during which you feel terrible. Don’t beat yourself up over this and allow yourself to work through grief as it comes.
Like so many other things in life, grief can be temporarily remedied by doing things you love. While it’s fine to take it easy for a while, don’t neglect your passions and hobbies. Spend time with your friends and enjoy simple activities that take your mind off your pain.
Almost everyone who is grieving can benefit from grief counseling, but if your grief feels overwhelming, get grief counseling. The earlier you get help, the more likely it is to help you, and there’s no shame in seeking some extra assistance when you’re coping with a massive loss.
Grief is a complex emotion that all of us will eventually feel. Reminding yourself that you are not alone in your grief and that grief is a normal part of life can be comforting at times when you feel crazy, alone, or lost.