How To Feel Better When You Miss Someone
By: Rachel Lustbader
Updated February 06, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Fawley
Sadness can overwhelm you when you miss someone who has been an important part of your life. You may experience other feelings as well after the loss of a loved one, such as anger, disbelief, even guilt. As long as your thoughts are centered on your loss, you may always feel empty and depleted. There are ways you may have been told to cope with the loss that just does not seem to be helping you. Focusing on the loss can shift your mind too much into the past, but sometimes people fear that not concentrating on the loss will cause you to lose connection with the person that is gone. Sometimes those around you do not know how to be helpful, so they avoid talking to you about your pain. However, pretending the person that is gone never existed is a poor solution that robs you of the permission to enjoy those precious memories. Here are a few ways to feel better when the loss seems too much to bear.
Honor Your Memories
One way to honor your beautiful memories of them is to create a memory book. Get a blank scrapbook and fill it with the happiest memories of that person. Add ticket stubs from events you attended together, photos of times you enjoyed together, and paper souvenirs of vacations you took with them. You can even draw sketches that depict your pleasant memories or create a visual map of a day spent with them. Now, here is the most important part. Set aside the scrapbook. Give yourself permission to look at it for a set time, such as one hour per week. Then, put it away and focus on the present. If you do not have the time or energy for something this elaborate, a few simple photos or keepsakes in a place easily accessible to you will do. It does not have to be Pinterest worthy unless you will enjoy the project. If you find yourself overwhelmed with too many mementos, please consider getting some help putting them away into boxes or donating them to a good cause. Keep a few important and special things, but leave the rest. Remember that objects are only objects but your memories do not leave you. You can access them at any time you think about that person.
Write A Letter
If you are like many grievers, there are things you want the person who is not with you anymore to know that have gone unsaid. You might ask, "What is the purpose of a letter the other person will never read?" The real purpose of the letter is to allow you to say the things out loud that are milling around in your mind so that you can release them. It can be very cathartic to read the letter out loud at a gravesite if appropriate. You could also choose to read it to a trusted friend or loved one. If the person you missed is not deceased, a letter can still be appropriate whether you choose to send it or not. You could also consider taking something important to the relationship you are grieving and doing something ceremonial with it, such as burying it in sand or burning it in a campfire (safely please). A physical act such as this can help you to honor your feelings and ritually put some completion on them.
Helping others does not serve the purpose of replacing your loss, but it can be very helpful to connect to other people and not withdraw when you are hurting. You could use a skill you already have in a new way. For example, you could turn the ability to bake into a pastime of baking cookies for friends, residents of a nursing home or visitors to a homeless shelter. The quick rewards here are seeing the pleasure on the recipients' faces and enjoying a sample for yourself.
Stay in the Present
Avoid behaviors that might help alleviate your pain in the short term but are actually only helping to distract you from feeling anything related to grief in the long term. Examples of such behaviors would be overuse of alcohol or using other mind-altering substances, compulsive behaviors such as gambling, overeating, overusing the internet, or less than healthy sexual behavior. If we try to cope by not feeling our feelings, it is easier to get stuck in a place of pain and suffering for long.
Leave What Doesn't Feel Helpful
You may receive words of comfort from other people that truly feels like a gift, and that is wonderful. However, even when people are well-meaning, when they do not have effective tools of their own to deal with grief, you may hear suggestions or words from others that fall empty. Take what is helpful and leave the rest. There really is no right or wrong way to grieve a lost loved one or a major life change (as in divorce) and there is nothing wrong with you if some of the things that other people tell you worked for them just are not working for you. There are some unhelpful myths that get passed around in our culture that do not seem to work well to truly heal from grief. A few examples of these myths are "time heals all wounds", "losses need to be replaced", and "be strong for others". These messages truly do not feel effective for most grievers.
Set New Goals
New goals keep you grounded in the present and looking forward to the future. Here again, you can start with the familiar and move on to fresh territory. You could use your skill of riding a bike to conquer the goal of riding in all the state parks near you. As a bonus on this one, spending time in natural environments is proven to reduce stress and enhance mood. The purpose of setting new goals is to help you connect to things that are important to you and that help you feel alive and vital.
Talk It Out When You Miss Someone
Talking about your loss can help you understand our human need to grieve and learn from it. A counselor can help you understand how you are handling grief and perhaps teach some new skills to allow you to move on from here. It helps to talk to someone kind and knowledgeable who you can trust with your tender feelings of loss. A professional therapist, such as those available through Betterhelp.com can guide you through this time and offer proven psychological techniques for dealing with the feelings and changes you are facing. You may never forget the time you spent with your loved one, but you can learn how to support yourself through moving through the pain so that the memories of your love bring you more joy.
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