Experiencing the death of a loved one is the hardest thing we can go through in this life. What can make grieving even more challenging is the feeling that we’re somehow doing it wrong.
But grieving is a unique experience, and there is truly no “right” way to do it. Author Anne Morrow Lindberg put it best when she said, “… suffering … no matter how multiplied, is always individual.”
While there is no one right way to grieve the loss of a loved one, there are some guidelines that will help you heal.
You Will Survive the Loss
The pain of a loved one’s death is so great that we often feel it may cause our own death. But it’s important to remember that emotions, no matter how big, cannot harm you.
In fact, not feeling emotions and bottling them up can often make the situation, and sometimes our health, much worse. In addition, avoiding the pain of loss tends to stunt our grieving, and we end up taking our pain with us into our future.
Understand the Ebb and Flow of Grief
Grieving is a process with no stillness. There is always movement, an ebb, and flow to our grief. After a few weeks, you may have a day when you feel like you can finally catch your breath, where you notice how pretty a sunny day is, and when your dog can make you laugh again. And then, the very next day, you feel that old, familiar darkness and despair slide under your skin.
This is natural, and it’s important for you to pay attention to these rhythms of grief. The more you become aware of the ebb and flow of your personal journey, the more you’ll believe that someday there will be more good days than bad.
Practice Self Care
It’s important during this time that you care for yourself as you would a dear friend. Ensure that you get enough rest and try and eat well, even when eating seems like the last thing you want to do. Keeping up your strength is important during this time.
Try and get fresh air and move your body. This will help alleviate the stress and tension you have been feeling. And above all, be kind to yourself mentally and emotionally. Don’t chide yourself for crying in the bathroom on your lunch break. You would never do that to a dear friend, would you? Just let yourself feel your feelings when they come, and be gentle with yourself.
The people who love you will want to help you during the weeks and months that follow the loss. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help and support. If you need someone to watch the baby so you can go out for a much-needed run, ask. If your spouse was always the one to handle repairs around the house, ask a family member to come over and help.
It’s also a good idea to seek the guidance of a therapist who can help you work through your emotions and develop coping skills.
If you or a loved one is reeling from a personal loss and is interested in exploring treatment, please get in touch with me. I’d be happy to discuss how I may be able to help.