Tips to help you manage the loss of a loved one
The loss of a loved one can make you feel frozen in time. Grief settles into your mind, body, and soul as you look around to see that empty seat at the table or feel the pain of someone’s absence from maturing family photos. If you’ve ever lost a loved one, please know you are not alone, and - no matter the age, relationship, time, or place – the physical, emotional, and psychological weight you carry of the pieces they left behind are real. Grief is one of the most difficult parts of experiencing loss and it’s important to learn how to build yourself up within that space and heal into this new reality.
Here are 5 ways to help you cope with loss and grief:
Make Time for Yourself
This is the most important first step as you go through the ebb and flow of the grieving process. Making time for yourself helps you stay in the present when you begin to spiral into sadness about the person you lost. Making time doesn’t have to be a chore, but it needs to become a habit. Taking a moment to walk outside, utilizing one day per week for self-care, or doing something you used to enjoy as a kid are all great places to start. It’s common to feel like you are frozen in time and don’t want to do anything that could make you happy since your loved one is no longer here to experience happiness with you. But making that choice to do something good – no matter how small it may seem – can make all the difference in the grieving process.
Let Yourself Feel
Letting yourself feel all your emotions is the hardest part of the grieving process as it is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. You may not realize how often you fill your time, give your energy, or do things that are less-than-healthy to avoid feeling sadness, anger, guilt, remorse, shame, relief, or any other feelings tied to your loss. Giving yourself the space and time to sit with your emotions and allow yourself to be present can help you navigate this new terrain of the grieving process. Once you do this, you will also be more self-aware and less self-doubting on how to handle the onset of any anxiety, depression, or other grief and trauma responses that come your way.
Keep Healthy Habits
The best way to take care and heal from a traumatic experience is to be intentional when keeping your mind and body healthy. You may experience strong and sudden symptoms like loss of appetite, lack of energy, weight gain/loss, nutrient deficiencies, or memory issues. Because your body is recovering from the initial shock of your loss and sudden hormonal changes through a highly emotional grieving process, you should always make rest a priority. It is also important to be consistent with gentle movements and exercise, like light walking or yoga, and healthy eating habits, like staying hydrated with water and consuming nutrient-dense foods. The physical, mental, and emotional demands your body has during this difficult time require that support to adjust to its new normal, too. You can read more on how to begin healing different traumas here.
Connect With Others In Grief
Walking through grief can be isolating as your relationship with the person you grieve is unique to you, but you don’t have to do it alone. Finding support groups, grief message boards, or connecting with someone who experienced loss in the past can help you gain valuable insight and learn from their unique perspective on the grieving process. This can be incredibly cathartic and bring emotional connection during a time when your emotions may feel like they’ve been shut off to anyone and anything but your loved one’s memory. Connection to others is key to strengthening a healthier outlook that your loved one would want you to have for your future.
Build Your Support System
The best way to navigate your emotions, handle your thoughts, and possibly alleviate some grief-related physical ailments is to build a strong support system that can help you in every part of the grieving process. This can include friends, family, mental health professionals, and both online and in-person grief support community groups. It can be difficult to be vulnerable and ask for help but taking that step to accept and grow into your new reality while still remembering the love and lessons you have from your loved ones is the step to creating a new outlook for a healthier and fulfilling life.
If you need grief counseling or mental health support as you step into your new reality, KQH Mental Health Counseling is here to help you. We are a private practice that provides psychotherapy to individuals, couples, and families. Learn more about our services by visiting our website.