Finding ways to cope with the death of a loved one can be one of the hardest things to do. Whether the person who has passed away is a dear friend or beloved family member, losing them is one of the hardest things to experience at any age. Everyone has different ways to cope with the death of a loved one, some people mourn deeply while others act as though nothing has happened while inside they are falling to pieces. Hopefully these tips can help you out. I lost a family member almost a year ago and a very close friend last week, I am still reeling from both losses so I wanted to share with you the different things I do to try to feel better.
Crying may seem like one of the more obvious ways to cope with the death of a loved one, but some people refuse to let themselves cry. Crying doesn’t make you weak, it helps you release the pent up feelings inside of you and makes you less tense while allowing you to express your grief. If you have someone you are comfortable with, have them wrap you in their arms while you sob. If you are more of a private person, curl up in bed and bawl your eyes out. Just make sure you don’t stay there for days. I fell into a deep depression after the death of my family member and I am only now, 11 months later, starting to pull myself out of it. If you feel unable to cry, and sometimes you do, play songs, movies or home videos that make you think of the person and force yourself to cry. I know that sounds ridiculous, but the relief you feel after a good cry is worth it.
You may not feel like talking at first and that’s fine, but at some point shortly after your loved one’s passing, you’ll need to open up to someone about how you’re feeling. You may want to talk to a family member or a friend, or someone who didn’t even know the person who passed away, sometimes that’s easiest. As long as you’re spilling your feelings to someone and letting them out of you, it will work towards making you feel normal again. You can talk about how you feel about losing the person or you can just talk to someone about all the fun, happy, silly things you will miss about them.
This is not the same as “talking to somebody” because a therapist isn’t just anyone; they are specially trained to help you deal with any thoughts and feelings you may have. It is extremely common for people coping with loss to fall into depression, have intense feelings of anxiety, unreasonable guilt or, occasionally, suicidal tendencies. Grief Counselors or other therapists can teach you different techniques that will help you feel better.
Believe me, I know that losing someone makes you feel like your life has stopped as well. If that person was a part of your daily life, it feels like the whole world has fallen apart. While you certainly need to grieve, you also need to remember to take a break from it and have fun. After a few weeks have passed, make sure to schedule some fun time in. It can be for an hour or a whole day, but make sure you take time for you. Play a game or read a book or even do something simple like watch TV or a movie, just do something that takes your mind off of recent events. Don’t feel guilty for laughing and having a good time, the person that you are mourning would want you to be happy again.
Christmas, Easter, Mother’s or Father’s Day, birthdays and anniversaries… holidays are incredibly hard after you lose a loved one. Not just the first year, but for many years to come. Only you know how you will react. If you know that you will be a wreck, take the day off of work or school, and remind someone close to you that you will be upset that day and why. If you are the type of person who copes better by keeping your mind busy, do the opposite and ASK to work those days, plan a girls' night out, go on a shopping spree, do anything to keep your mind off of the day. No matter what your coping style is, make sure you think ahead about these hard days so they don’t spring up on you and take you by surprise.
I know this may sound morbid to some people, but I find it comforting to talk out loud to my lost loved ones. It’s usually at times when I would normally ask them for advice or when I’m going through a hard time. I know they aren’t there, I know they can’t answer back, so it’s not as if I’m delusional, it just sometimes makes things feel normal to confide in the people I always looked to for help, even though they are no longer there.
Don’t give yourself a time limit to grieve. There is no way to tell when you will start to feel like yourself again. As I said, I lost a family member 11 months ago and I’m still not back to my old self. I thought for sure after 5 or 6 months I’d be carrying on with my every day life, but there is just no predicting our feelings or thoughts, especially if you have never lost someone close to you before. Don’t feel like you’re abnormal if you don’t feel yourself snapping back immediately, different people take a different amount of time. Just take baby steps to setting your life back on track and do what you can when you can.
No matter how you choose to express your grief, make sure you DO express it. Holding it all inside will only cause it to fester and could turn into something far worse, like depression or a need to self soothe with alcohol or drugs. Allow yourself the time to grieve, seek the support you need and remember, in time things will start to feel better even though it feels like a chunk of your heart is missing. What ways do you use to cope with grief?
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