Ways To Cope After A Loss
By: Toni Hoy
Updated October 08, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Sonya Bruner
"What does it mean when you're constantly thinking about someone who passed away?"
Loss. A simple word that comprises all kinds of events and experiences in our lives, and carries with it so much weight.
A death, a breakup, an illness, even a move to a new city can all propel us into feelings of loss.
Sometimes the loss is obvious: the death of a spouse or other close family member. Other times, it is not so easy to recognize, as in a loss of health or of work that you enjoyed.
In the loss of a person or a relationship, it can be difficult to move on. Whatever the situation, we may find ourselves ruminating obsessively about that person, grieving for the good times we had, unable to let them go. This can make it challenging to get on with our lives.
Here are some specific kinds of loss that might be hard to navigate.
Different Kinds Of Loss:
The End Of A Relationship
It could be a breakup with your significant other, or a bitter falling-out with a good friend. In either case, you may find your wheels spinning into nowhere, your mind going over the same scenarios repeatedly. You may fight the urge to text the person and ask how they are, or to stalk their social media. These behaviors fuel the fires of loss, making it even harder to let go.
Travel Or Relocation
If you see a friend or loved one every day, it can be difficult to adjust to the loss of contact when that person is physically far away. Fortunately, plenty of technology exists to help you stay connected; however, this can be a mixed blessing. A sense of balance is needed to prevent a loved one's absence from overshadowing other aspects of your life.
In this most obvious and final kind of loss, you may find yourself haunted by memories of what you will never again share with the departed loved one. Such memories are a double-edged sword, offering comfort while at the same time sharpening the aching wound of finality and absence. The work of griefcan be so overwhelming that it can take years to navigate.
While we may be tempted to dismiss this kind of loss as trivial, there is no denying the painful feelings of longing and rejection that accompany it. Perhaps you went on a few dates; or maybe you have admired someone from afar for a long time; or have been friends but never made your stronger feelings known. Even if we hardly know the person at all, we can develop an unhealthy addiction to the emotions of attachment and rejection, a cycle that's difficult to break out of.
No matter your situation, you may find yourself wondering how to stop thinking about someone after they're gone. When someone leaves you, no matter how or why they go, you experience a loss. If you were especially close to them, it is natural to grieve. Yet, at some point, you have to move on. The most important thing to know is that with the right kind of help, you can turn your thoughts to new people and experiences if you choose to do so.
First, Let Yourself Grieve
Trying to skip the grief process when someone is gone from your life rarely works out the way you hope it will. In some way, you will notice a shift in your reality, whether you cry, get angry, or just can't get them out of your head. Your emotions will come, in some way or another, at some time in your life. Acknowledge those feelings whenever they arise. You don't have to wallow in self-pity to do it, either. You only have to know that you lost something that was precious to you. Whether you go through the five stages of grief in order or not isn't as important as understanding that your grief experience is unique to you. No one can tell you how to do it. They can only be there to support you.
Stay In The Moment
If you lost someone very close and dear to you, your grieving may never end completely. It may diminish. It may surface less often. Yet, it will likely come back from time to time as long as you live. Does that mean you have to keep thinking about that person constantly? No. To get your mind off of the past, be mindful of the present moment. Pay attention to the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures of today.
Seek Out Friends And New Experiences
Reconnecting with old friends can be helpful because it helps you expand your support network. If these were mutual friends you shared with the person you lost, though, spending time with them might not be effective in getting your mind off your loss. In those cases, it is often best to reconnect with friends you had before the lost relationship began. Or, you can get involved in activities where you have the opportunity to make new friends. These new friends can be an important part of moving on, and these new activities and experiences can help you shift into the present.
If it's a breakup or a hopeless crush, do yourself a favor by breaking off contact with the person as much as possible. Delete or block them from your social media and remove them from your contacts so you won't be tempted to call or text. Avoid spending any time with the person unless you absolutely have to. If you must interact in the workplace, keep these interactions brief and businesslike.
To some extent, talking out your feelings about a loss can help you work through them. At a certain point, though, you will find yourself dwelling on the same negative points over and over in your conversation. The more you talk about the loss, the more it stays in your mind. When you find yourself covering the same ground yet again, try changing the subject. You'll be amazed what a difference it can make.
Avoid Negative Thinking
We tend to overanalyze the negative aspects of a loss. We might obsess about the perceived cruelty of someone who hurt or rejected us. Or we might torture ourselves with "what if’s," wondering if the person would still be here with us if we had done something differently. But this kind of thinking is inaccurate and harmful. The truth is, there is usually no one to blame for a loss. In fact, most losses are caused by a combination of bad luck and bad timing. Instead, focus on the positive things that resulted from this attachment or relationship. What did you learn? How did this person help you? What will you do differently next time? Focus on the good you got from the relationship rather than the bad.
What If You Still Don't Know How To Stop Thinking Of Someone?
Understanding a concept is not quite the same as actually doing it. If you find the information on how to stop ruminating on your prior life doesn't help you, the best solution is to talk to someone familiar with grief issues. Licensed counselors are available at BetterHelp.com to talk to you about your loss and help you find ways to move on.
Online therapy is becoming more and more popular, and for good reason. For those dealing with depression – a condition that can be brought on or exacerbated by loss and grief – online counseling has been found to significantly reduce symptoms of moderate to severe depression in 70% of users. For those undergoing grief therapy, one study found that the dropout rate among clients attending in-person grief therapy is approximately 59%, compared to only 33% for those utilizing online grief therapy. Continue reading below for reviews of some of our board-certified therapists from those seeking help in working through grief and loss.
“Chinyere has been amazing with being supportive of me when I need it most and I have no one really else in the world to listen. She has given me good coping tools and made me feel like over time I can get through the pain I’m feeling for the loss of my fiancé. I would highly recommend her!”
“Rick has been so wonderful to talk to. He is warm, funny, empathetic and also just the right amount of no-nonsense. I was so pleasantly surprised by how well we connected despite our outward differences. He helped me talk through my grief and understand what I was going through while often making me laugh. I wish him nothing but the best - I'm off to live my life, but will definitely be back if I need a friend to lean on. :)”
Grieving can feel debilitating at times, but with the right tools and support you can work through your grief and achieve a greater sense of acceptance and peace. Take the first step today.
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