Healthy Coping With the Loss of a Loved One

Updated: Feb 16, 2021

Is It Even Possible?


The answer is yes even if you do not think it is. If you have recently lost a loved one, how should you cope? Is there some guide to help us navigate grief with healthy coping with the loss of a loved one? Many people resort to unhealthy ways to cope with their loss. They invalidate what they feel, they isolate themselves, and some would pretend that they are okay instead of facing grief. Others lose it and end up doing things that harm them, hoping that they will feel better. However, this only worsens the situation and may, at times, cause long-term damage. The process of grieving takes a lot of work. The hurt and the pain would not go away in an instant. It is a process, and here are some insights to help you cope in a healthy manner.


Share the grief and heal as a family.


The whole family must face their grief together. Family members should talk with each other. They should not be ashamed to cry as a family.


The key is helping each other cope. Though everyone is grieving, they should not go through it alone. Some family members may heal faster than others. Also, some may be more affected than others, depending on how close they were with the deceased. That is why supporting each other is crucial.


Learn to acknowledge your feelings.


One healthy way to cope with the loss of a loved one is to never ignore your feelings. There is no escaping; you will have to feel them heal from them. No matter how long you run away, you are your feelings and pretend to be okay; the grief will still catch up with you someday. The sooner you go through the process without skipping any step, the earlier you will get back to your feet and go on with life.


Experience the pain, experience the hurt, experience grief. There is no shortcut to the process. Talk to your family. Learn about each other’s struggles. Never invalidate each other’s feelings.


Give yourself time.


To reiterate, it is a process. There is no deadline as to when grief should “end.” Take if you need it. The feelings need to be felt, for that will be the only way to heal.


Everyone heals differently, so do not set a date as to the end of the grieving process. The bitter truth is that the pain of losing a loved one never goes away. Instead, it reduces with time as you gradually learn to live with it. The bottom line is to spend as much time as you can to digest the pain, accept it as part of you, and learn to coexist with it without interfering with your everyday life.


Focus on healthy activities.

  • Learn a new hobby or exercise regularly. Explore your artistic side.

  • Talk to somebody about your feelings. Interact with other people.

  • The purpose of these activities is for you to have an outlet to express your grief.

  • Sometimes, crying is an excellent way to release what you feel.

Whatever you do, make sure you do not let your feelings bottled up inside because it might consume you in the long run. Too much pain from losing a loved one can change your personality, and that is why you cannot risk bottling up the feelings.


Perform deep breathing exercises.


Deep breathing will help you become more relaxed. Breathing from the diaphragm helps create a calming pattern that slows down tension and anxiety, often hitting people who are grieving.


Learning meditation would also be a good idea. According to the Mayo Clinic, meditation takes you to a deep state of peace, calm, and tranquility, crucial to your mental and psychological well-being.


Meditating several times per day can give you a break from the grieving thoughts and give you the much-needed peace.


Seek counseling.


While talking with your family and friends about your feelings is a good practice, seeing a counselor would still be advisable. There are grief counselors that you can see. They specialize in grief counseling and are aware of the things and practices that can help you cope with the loss.


If you suspect experiencing intense depression or feeling you do not know how to cope with your grief, it is best to seek therapy. If you are having suicidal thoughts or someone in the family is experiencing such, immediately seek counseling.


Dealing with Sudden Death of a Loved One.


Although the loss of a loved one is devastating, the circumstances under which the death occurs can also contribute to more pain. For instance, you cannot compare the pain associated with the end of a loved one involved in a car crash and a 120-year old grandmother who died of old age.


Get it right, both cases cause pain, but the problem comes in different degrees. Picture a brother; you had fun together in the morning and parted ways, perfectly healthy. Two days later, you receive news that he has succumbed to covid-19, a few hours after contracting it. Such unexpected death can throw you off balance in a manner of seconds. These tips can help you stay sane and grieve in peace.


Take part in a service or ritual.


When you suddenly lose a loved one, you need a group of people to stand by your side, apart from your family. Holding a funeral or memorial ceremony with other people can play a significant role in comforting you and helping you transition to the new life. Such a ritual can also bring you to the reality of losing your loved one, which is a good thing for the grieving process.


Talk freely about it.


It does not matter who you talk to. Just let it out to whoever is ready to listen. Talking to someone helps in letting the pain out and relieving stress. When you are emotionally down, some encouraging words and a shoulder to cry on can comes in handy in your grieving process.


Find something to keep you busy.


As much as accepting the facts and taking enough time to grieve is fine, overdoing it will not do you any good. It may cause depression, which may make you suicidal in the long run, as per the U.S. Department of Human and Health Services (HHS).


To avoid sitting there, lonely and sad, find something that can cut the crying and thinking monotony. For example, you can go for a walk, watch a funny movie, or chat with friends about something other than your loss. This will give you a break and replenish the lost energy for further grief. Keeping busy is truly healthy when coping with the loss of a loved one.


Join a support group


A 2018 study about mental health and social inclusion reveals that support groups can play a huge role in reducing symptoms and hospitalization and enhancing behavior and perception. That said, you should find a support group in which other grieving people meet to help each other get over their losses.


Generally, interacting with someone who fully understands how you feel can help a great deal. You cannot compare this with talking to someone who has not lost anyone and does not necessarily feel the pain you feel.


Keep the good memories.


Preserving memories are an excellent way to let go of a dead person. It helps you accept what happened and gives you a chance to remember how good they were to you and why you should be happy for the times you spent together.


You can do this by making an album of their pictures, planting a tree in their honor, or hanging their photos in your room. Alternatively, you can write a letter addressing them directly as though they will read it. In doing so, you let out your feelings and can contribute to faster healing.


Embrace Life


However long the grieving process takes, you will have to put everything aside and start living one day. It does not mean you have forgotten about your loved one who died; instead, it shows that you are done with the grieving process and ready to move on.


Once you have gone through the complete process, embrace a new life. Learn to live without your loved one and teach yourself to accept that you will never see them in your life again.


Start going out, read books, hit the gym, eat healthily, meditate, get a new job, start a family, start a business, etc. In short, do something new, something that will indicate that you have bounced bac. It is the right way of telling life, “I survived the pain you brought to me,” and embracing a new life.


In Conclusion


Dealing with grief is a long process. There is no deadline. There is no time frame. Allow yourself to recognize your feelings, feel them, and then when you are ready, and begin to heal. However, seek help so that you do not drown in grief and live a miserable life.


Even though there is no deadline for grieving, do not let it consume you for the rest of your life. Your lost loved one would want you to accept the loss and go on with your life happily. Just know that healthy coping with the loss of a loved one is possible.


Please feel free to leave your questions and comments below.


Pat Bracy


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