How to Survive the Death of a Loved One
Part 3: Tips for Dealing with Grief
Mourning is the process of experiencing the feelings of grief and adjusting to life without the person who died. Mourning takes time and energy, and it can be difficult to allow ourselves the space we need to mourn. It is vital, however, to our health and well-being that we do this. It helps to know that powerful, overwhelming feelings will lessen with time.
There are a variety of ways we can be supported and help ourselves through grief and mourning. Listed below are some of the most important ways, followed by a list of resources for further ideas and support.
2 — Accept your feelings. Allow yourself to roll with the tides of grief. Your feelings may be different and more intense than usual. It’s normal to feel all sorts of strong emotions and essential to allow yourself to feel them.
4 — Learn about grief. Knowledge about grief can be essential to the healing process. It helps us to relax about what is happening and gives us tools for coping.
5 — Nurture yourself and keep yourself healthy. Try to keep a regular schedule and maintain the basics of good health — exercise, good food, rest. You may need more rest than usual. This is the time to pamper yourself — get a massage, listen to relaxing music, take walks in nature, etc.
6 — Pace yourself. Avoid unrealistic expectations of yourself. Grieving takes time and energy.
7 — Involve yourself in work or meaningful activity, but also leave time for grieving. It’s important to take allow time and space for grieving, but it’s also helpful to continue some meaningful activities and connection. The key is to not pressure oneself about accomplishments and goals.
8 — Don’t be afraid to have fun. Even in the most trying times, the capacity for humor and fun can be present. It is not a betrayal of the loved one to be able to feel some joy.
9 — Get professional help if needed. If you find that you are in great distress or in long-term depression, individual or group therapy from a counselor who specializes in grief may be advisable. You can ask your doctor for a referral.
When we are in the midst of grief, it is painful and can seem overwhelming. It can be hard to imagine that we will ever feel good again, but we all have the capacity to heal from loss and create a new life without our loved one. I encourage you to learn more about grief and read the stories of others who have survived the loss of a loved one. You don’t have to go through this journey alone. Others have experienced what you are experiencing and are available to support you now.
Internet Resources for Grief
http://www.griefhealing.com/ — our favorite — lovely, informative website
http://www.hospicenet.org/html/bereavement.html — especially well-written and informative website
http://www.americanhospice.org/griefzone/articles/helpingself.htm — how to help yourself with grief
http://www.griefnet.org/library/biblio/index.html — extensive book list by topics
http://www.compassionatefriends.org/ — support with the death of a child