No one is ever prepared for the process of coping with grief and loss. After a loved one passes away you’re left with a hole in your life that can be difficult to fill.
Between the various tasks that need to be completed, any bills, and the other people in your life that are also dealing with this grief, it can be hard to give yourself room to be sad.
How can you make things easier for yourself? Is there any way to get out of the hole so you can begin to heal and move forward?
We want to offer some suggestions during this trying time. Keep reading for a few tried and true coping strategies for dealing with grief and loss after the death of a loved one.
1. Let Yourself Feel
Too many people don’t give themselves a proper grieving period. We’re living in such a fast-paced world that it can seem unreasonable to take time to sit down and grieve. There’s so much to do in so little time!
Really sitting with your grief instead of repressing it is healthy. You shouldn’t ruminate, but you shouldn’t pretend that these feelings don’t exist. You deserve to feel how you’re feeling.
Talk with other friends and family about your feelings. Consider seeing a therapist to help you put your feelings into perspective and move through them instead of ignoring them.
No one with any sense expects you to go on as if nothing has happened. Your feelings are valid and you should honor them.
2. Have a Celebration of Life
Funerals are inherently sad events. You’re going to have to plan a funeral if you’re in the immediate family, but even if you’re not you can ask to contribute.
If you’re doing the planning consider having a celebration of life instead of a traditional funeral. A celebration of life is a more uplifting event in which you honor your loved one and express gratitude for your time together.
Funerals are for the living, but you get to pretend that a celebration of life is for the dead. Imagine it as a party that you’re holding after your loved one has accomplished something great: in this case, a full life.
Eulogies turn into speeches about their accomplishments and good qualities. There can be food and music that your loved one would have enjoyed.
If you’re not in charge you should still contribute when you’re able. This can be as small as an offering of funeral flowers or cooking for the immediate family of the deceased so they have time to rest.
3. Don’t Self-Isolate
It’s all too easy to curl up into your snail shell when things get tough. Don’t let yourself make this mistake.
The people around you know that you’re going through a difficult time. It’s likely that they’re going to be reaching out to help. If you freeze them out, they’ll take that as a hint that you need space.
Needing space is okay, but being with friends is going to help you move through the grieving process with more peace. They’ll help you get out into the world so that you’re not just sitting at home alone with your thoughts to keep you company.
Let people help you. It’s okay to be vulnerable during this time.
4. Keep Busy
You aren’t doing yourself any favors by sitting around and doing nothing. You get to have that sitting around time, but you might feel better if you’re productive or engaged in activities that you enjoy.
You don’t have to spend this time doing hard work, though if you’re the type to feel better when you’re working that might be the choice for you.
You can spend this time planning for future holidays, spending time with your friends and family, beginning an exercise routine, or even getting immersed in an old hobby that you’ve left behind.
You’ll feel better once you begin to get your mind off of your grief. You won’t be repressing it, but rather redirecting it.
5. Do Charity Work
Sometimes the best thing that we can do when we’re feeling down is helping someone else.
There is a lot of charity work to be done. Look for opportunities in your city or town to volunteer and help people who are in need. Grief can make you feel useless, but volunteer work can give you purpose at least for the short term.
The objective isn’t to see how other people “have it worse”, though that might be a side effect. This isn’t a competition.
It’s to channel your grief into something that’s good and helpful. Through the death of your loved one, you’ll be giving to someone else. What better way is there to honor their memory?
6. Embrace Self-Care
Sometimes we just need time to shut off the outside world and take care of ourselves. If you’ve been bustling around planning a funeral and you’re too tired to continue being productive or hanging out with friends, give yourself some self-care time to decompress.
Self-care looks different for everyone. Some people use their self-care time to take long baths with a good book and a bottle of wine.
Other people like to buy themselves small trinkets that they’ve been wanting. Others like to listen to their favorite music and light a few scented candles.
Some like a good spa day.
Whatever your self-care looks like, give yourself a few hours per week to devote to it. You can’t care for others until you’ve taken care of yourself.
7. Ask for Help
Understanding the grieving process isn’t easy. If you don’t know what you’re going to need ahead of time you can find yourself in over your head.
There’s no shame in asking friends, family, or professionals for help while you’re moving through this difficult time.
People may be happy to provide a meal for you or help you clean around the house when you don’t have it in you to move. You could consider hiring a cleaner for a week or two to lower your burden.
While you shouldn’t use your friends as therapists, there’s nothing wrong with asking them to talk you through this time and help guide you to acceptance.
You don’t have to do it alone.
Coping with Grief and Loss Is a Challenge
You might think that you’re prepared, but coping with grief and loss is harder than you’d expect (and you already expect it to be difficult). There’s no way to warn someone about the feeling of someone disappearing from your life.
Remember, you’re allowed to feel this pain. It would be stranger if you didn’t.
For more posts about family life and the struggles that can come with it, visit the rest of our site.