Grief is one of the most difficult challenges in life. If you’re coping with the loss of a loved one, then you know that grief is highly personal and looks different for everyone.
That said, there are a few healthy ways to approach your journey towards healing. We’ve compiled a list of our five tips to help you cope with the loss of your loved one, and move through this time in your life with empathy and insight.
#1 Talk About Your Emotions
Don’t bottle up your feelings until you burst—all this leaves you with is broken glass.
Remember that it’s okay to express your sadness, anger, or frustration. The path to healing isn’t straightforward, and it’s normal to experience a wide range of emotions.
Confide in close family members and friends. If possible, talk with others who share your grief. Finding common ground will ease the sense of loneliness and isolation.
#2 Celebrate Life with Those Still Around You
Bringing your friends and family together for a community gathering can be incredibly therapeutic, whether it’s a funeral, wake, or celebration of life. No matter what you call it, it’s an important part of the healing process.
If you’re up to it, support other loved ones who are going through grief by helping with memorial arrangements:
- Flowers – Offer to organize the funeral flower arrangements. Select flowers that were special to the person you lost.
- Readings – Offer to contribute a meaningful story or poem during the service.
- Finances – Although it may seem like an insignificant task, offer to help manage bills and payments for the funeral. With emotions running high and lots to organize, it might be helpful for family members to have support dealing with logistics.
#3 Preserve Good Memories
Find a way to create a physical memorial of your loved one. Include favorite photos and significant sentimental objects. Place your tribute in a prominent location in your home, so it’s easy to see and appreciate. This way, you’ll think of your loved one every day, and all the wonderful memories you shared.
Another simple way to honor the memory of a loved one is to plant a tree or garden in their honor. If possible, choose a location that was important to them, and use plants or flowers that held special meaning.
#4 Seek Professional Guidance
You don’t need to cope with your loss alone. Remember, there’s no shame in seeking help from a therapist. Professional guidance is one of the best ways to gain support and insight during a difficult time. It can be hard to gain perspective about our own struggles, but a therapist can help us see what’s really going on.
You might also find it easier to confide in someone wholly removed from the situation. Family dynamics can be tricky and fraught with tension, but a therapist is literally paid not to judge you for your thoughts and feelings.
They serve as a neutral party that doesn’t have a personal stake in the situation. Your therapist will help you develop strategies to deal with overwhelming emotions, as well as methods to communicate these emotions with family members.
#5 Practice Self-Care
Nowadays, the term “self-care” can feel a bit trite. But when you’re coping with significant loss, it’s really important to take care of yourself!
Here are a few ways to nourish your body:
- Practice sleep hygiene – Dealing with intense emotions and trauma is exhausting. Be kind to your body by maintaining a consistent sleep schedule. Stick with a solid routine and practice calming rituals, like meditation or deep breathing, before bed.
- Feed your body (and soul) – When you’re going through grief, it’s tempting to eat a pint of ice cream for dinner. Comfort-food can genuinely make us feel better, but part of being kind to your body during a difficult time is eating wholesome, nutritious foods.
- Get outside – Spend time under the sun every day. Even if it’s only a fifteen-minute walk or a bit of time in the garden, fresh air and exercise are key components of taking care of yourself.
Dealing with loss can be slow-going. Don’t worry if several months (or years) down the line you’re still struck with moments of overwhelming grief and pain. But don’t beat yourself up when you start to feel genuine joy, laughter, and excitement, either.
It might not seem this way just yet, but things will get easier—give it time and give yourself some love.