How To Deal With Grief After Losing Someone You Love
Updated February 17, 2020
Reviewer Lauren Fawley
We all know that death is a part of life, but that doesn't make it any easier when a loved one passes away. In these fragile parts of our lives, it can be difficult to figure out how to deal with our feelings.
There are numerous factors that will determine the severity of sadness and grief that a person will feel. For example, the emotions you feel following losing a parent will most likely be more severe than the ones you will feel when losing a friend or family member who was not as close to you. Grief is about the relationship.
What are the Stages of Grief?
According to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, there are 5 main stages of grief, although not all people experience all stages of grief. There is no "correct" order to the stages and many people even experience feelings and thoughts related to each phase at the same time.
These stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
When we first learn of the loss of a loved one, it is common to be in denial. This doesn't necessarily mean that you will refuse to believe of the death, but rather have thoughts that this can't be true. You may find haven within your own mind and choose to pretend your loved one is on an extended vacation or that it was all just a bad dream. This is typically a brief reaction, although thoughts that they cannot actually be gone could be thoughts you have from time to time over a long period.
Another common grief reaction is anger. Once you are no longer able to ignore the situation, you will want someone to blame. If the passing was due to a medical condition, you might blame the doctors in charge of caring for them. In a car accident, you may blame the other driver, even if your loved one was the party at fault. It is common to feel anger at the person who is gone for different reasons. It is even common to be angry with yourself.
Another phase of anger is bargaining. This is an example of the "if onlys" that you might consider. If only you had stayed a little longer at Christmas or spoken to your loved one more on the phone. When you are considering all the "what ifs", you are bargaining or taking on more than your fair share of responsibility for what happened. The truth of the matter is, your brain is looking for relief from the pain you are experiencing.
Depression is the grief reaction that we probably associate the most with loss. There are two main forms of depression that are commonly seen as a result of grief. It is a deep sadness that can last for a long period of time. It is natural to feel empty after a deep loss, and it is important to let others know about how you are doing.
The final stage of grief is acceptance. Acceptance is not about forgetting, it is about letting go of all the pain associated with loss. When you feel acceptance, you are able to think about the loved one who is no longer with you and experience positive emotions related to them as well. You may still feel sad and miss the person from time to time, but you are also able to look to the future with hope.
Let Yourself Feel
All too often, we suffer for much longer than needed because we ignore our emotions during the bereavement process. This could be because it seems that it would be too difficult to deal with the emotions we are feeling, or it could be because we don't have enough positive support or other ways to cope with grief.
If you make it your goal and mission to learn how to get over grief that you feel, you will be able to get fully in touch with your emotions so that you can work through them in a healthy manner. We are supposed to have feelings in response to grief, and it is important to normalize them.
This will not be an easy or quick feat but remind yourself that all good things take time. You deserve to live a life full of happiness and peace. Don't let the grief that you carry around take that away from you.
Seek out Support
Grief is possibly one of the most difficult experiences that we must go through in our lives, but we haven't been great at supporting one another through the grief process as a whole. It's important to find the right kind of help.
Your first and most apparent option for this would be to seek out the help of friends or family members. It is likely that they are already aware of your situation and are more than willing to help you through this tough time. Reach out to them in your time of need and accept help when it is offered.
Even though your mind might trick you into thinking that this causes you to be a burden, don't listen to it. We all go through tough times and the people around us want to help hold us up. Your friends and family will want to be there for you, and you would be doing yourself an extreme disservice if you choose not to take advantage of that.
If you are uncomfortable including people close to you in your healing process, you could do a quick google search with the query "grief support groups near me" or "grief counseling near me". These are two wonderful options that you can use to help you on your journey to learn how to deal with grief.
A grief counselor is someone that is specially trained to help people that are in the same situation as you are in now. These are individuals who have chosen to dedicate their lives to the job and are more than happy to help you through this. Put your trust in them and trust the process as well. You will thank yourself later!
Keep a Journal
Many people find it very healing and therapeutic to keep a grief journal. This can be a spiral or an online blog that you keep to jot down anything you want.
Even though this will likely be in the same form as a diary, it does not have to keep that shape. You can use your journal to keep logs of how you are feeling, to commemorate memories that you have of the person you lost, or to write letters to this person.
Try to Avoid Major Changes
In the wake of the loss of your loved one, it is normal to feel like your life has been completely turned on its head. The life that you will live from there on out will be vastly different than the one you had before and that will require some adjusting to.
Major life changes such as starting a new job or moving to a new location might seem like just the thing to do, but it can be detrimental to your healing process. You want to make sure you don't take for granted the comfort that you feel from the things that stay constant in your life.
The reason it is so important to shy away from major changes like these is that it is imperative that you give yourself plenty of brain space to adapt to your new way of living. Even the slightest change in your life can make it all seem much too overwhelming, which will only delay you on your journey to learning how to deal with grief. You will be able to make other changes after you have processed your grief.
Accept that Life is for the Living
Although we can all agree that life would be much more pleasant without grief, the truth is that death is a part of life.
This is not the first or last time that you will lose someone you love. You don't need to worry about ever forgetting about this important person in your life that you loved. Living the best life you can, though, demands that you don't let your grief take your life away. Your loved one would not want you to stay stuck forever, so try to let go of any guilt that you have when you find yourself enjoying life. We are meant to feel all the emotions, the good, the bad, the ugly.