Coping With Grief (And What I Did)

How I Coped With Grief

 

Image result for grief

 

Coping with the loss of a close friend or family member may be one of the hardest challenges that many of us face. When we lose a spouse, sibling or parent our grief can be particularly intense. Loss is understood as a natural part of life, but we can still be overcome by shock and confusion, leading to prolonged periods of sadness or depression.

 

The sadness typically diminishes in intensity as time passes, but grieving is an important process in order to overcome these feelings and continue to embrace the time you had with your loved one.

 

Everyone reacts differently to death and employs personal coping mechanisms for grief. Research shows that most people can recover from loss on their own through the passage of time if they have social support and healthy habits. It may take months or a year to come to terms with a loss. There is no “normal” time period for someone to grieve. Don’t expect to pass through phases of grief either, as new research suggests that most people do not go through stages as progressive steps.

 

If your relationship with the deceased was difficult, this will also add another dimension to the grieving process. It may take some time and thought before you are able to look back on the relationship and adjust to the loss.

 

Human beings are naturally resilient, considering most of us can endure loss and then continue on with our own lives. But some people may struggle with grief for longer periods of time and feel unable to carry out daily activities. Those with severe grief may be experiencing complicated grief.  These individuals could benefit from the help of a psychologist or another licensed mental health professional with a specialization in grief.

 

 

Moving on With Life

 

Mourning the loss of a close friend or relative takes time, but research tells us that it can also be the catalyst for a renewed sense of meaning that offers purpose and direction to life.

 

Grieving individuals may find it useful to use some of the following strategies to help come to terms with loss:

 

Talk about the death of your loved one with friends and colleagues in order to understand what happened and remember your friend or family member.  Denying the death is an easy way to isolate yourself, and will frustrate your support system in the process.

 

Accept your feelings. People experience all kinds of emotions after the death of someone close. Sadness, anger, frustration and even exhaustion are all normal.

 

Take care of yourself and your family. Eating well, exercising and getting plenty of rest help us get through each day and move forward.

 

Reach out and help others dealing with the loss. Helping others has the added benefit of making you feel better as well. Sharing stories of the deceased can help everyone cope.

 

Remember and celebrate the lives of your loved ones. Possibilities include donating to a favorite charity of the deceased, framing photos of fun times, passing on a family name to a baby or planting a garden in memory. What you choose is up to you, as long as it allows you honor that unique relationship in a way that feels right to you. If you feel stuck or overwhelmed by your emotions, it may be helpful to talk with a licensed psychologist or other mental health professional who can help you cope with your feelings and find ways to get back on track.

(Adapted from a post by Katherine C. Nordal, PhD from the American Psychological Association)

 

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On a personal note … as of this writing, I am one month on from my Mom’s death.  For the first two weeks following her passing, I coped by not coping.  In other words, I forced the issue out of my mind and put all my energy into maintaining control.  I did this so that I could put on a strong front for my Dad, as I was worried about his reaction and did not want to compound the family misery. 

 

In the last few weeks, I have allowed myself to indulge in sadness, and thankfully, it is not quite as raw as it threatened to be earlier.  I don’t know if that was the “healthy” thing to do, but it felt appropriate to me then.  I’m sure my feelings will evolve over time, and I am open to working through the process, which I will update in future posts.

 

Things which have helped me cope best are the support of my husband, spending time with my dogs and blogging.   Blogging has been particularly cathartic for me.  I want and need to discuss this topic, but it is not one that I can discuss easily (nor is it a topic which many people enjoy in conversation).

 

 

 

Writing this blog enables me to explore the topic of dying and grief through recounting my experiences with my Mom’s two years of progressive terminal illness and eventual death, as well as through researching what “the experts” say.  I feel it is my new purpose to provide help and guidance for patients and loved ones who have questions they need (but perhaps don’t really want) to ask, or who feel they don’t have the right person to ask.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About Me

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14 thoughts on “Coping With Grief (And What I Did)”

  1. I believe that your “moving on with life” advise will become extremely helpful to someone who has to deal with grief. The tips were very comprehensive and the one that strike me the most was the one who suggests talking about the death of your loved one with friends and family members in order to not isolate ourselves.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Juan. I agree that Its healthy to share, and we’re lucky if we have someone to share with. Getting the feelings out somehow is usually quite therapeutic.

  2. I used to blog a lot in Blogspot when my father passed 12 years ago. I did not cry during his funeral. But surprisingly I can write fast without any effort because of my overflowing emotions. I have not talked to anyone about how it felt, of how I am coping, of what am I thinking. I channeled them to poems, short stories, drawings…I did nothing but blogged – privately. It really helped.

    1. Thanks for your feedback, Pitin. I did not cry at the funeral, either. I did not want to start a “domino effect” of crying in the family. I had a squishy rubber ball in my coat pocket and I squeezedit hard to help control myself. I agree about writing as a good way to emote. Sometimes it’s hard to find the right person to share the experience of sadness with, but the computer is always there.

  3. Grief yeah pretty much you could probably write a whole encyclopedia book about that word. Pain, suffering, depression, anger; I would say these things are all associated with that word unfortunately. I hope I will never have to experience the loss of a good friend. There’s only so many people who you can really relate to and I think that’s why some people may have a harder time coping with grief.

    Good stuff!

    -Chris

    1. You’re right, Chris. It seems like life is never quite the same once you’ve lost someone you care about. A certain sense of security in the world is eroded.

  4. Hi, very interesting ideas 🙂
    I know it’s so hard to lose someone you love and in the first months you have the feeling that he/she is about to come home and things of this type…
    But they say time heals all the wounds and it really is so, and I believe this is what will solve everything in the end.
    Thanks a lot for this great tips, I hope I won’t have to use them very soon…

  5. Hey Laurie,

    Sorry for your loss. I know how hard it can be to losing a loved one and coping can be a very difficult process. But form what you suggested through this article can greatly help to pass this difficult time in someones life. I think as humans we all have different coping mechanisms. I know for me personally i surrounded my self with family and friends during the sad times. This helped me a lot.

    Great post and i wish you all the best with your site 🙂

  6. Hi Laurie,

    First, l read your “About Me” and was touched with the honesty and your willingness to let people see themselves in you. You made a connection, and I’m sure all readers wish you the best.

    As for my own story, I remember how shocked I was when I lost a good friend who died in a car accident just two years after she graduated from high school. Jean , a talented musician and an amazing human being, had so much to offer and live for.

    I struggled for a long time with the unfairness of it all. For awhile, I didn’t much enjoy the holiday music played at Christmas. You see, Jean participated in many of the high school concerts. All that holiday cheers just made me miss her more.

    In time, however, I came to appreciate how music brought Jean joy. I realized that she would never have allowed me to be so gloomy during the holiday season.

    I coped with her loss by listening to her favorite music and being grateful for having known her.

  7. I love the drawing. It captures the essence of the grief process and how we tend to try to deal with it, but it really has a process we just can’t really get around. Grief does catch up one way or another. This article is really helpful. Thanks for sharing this.

  8. My parents are getting older and it is always in the back of my mind, its part of life but i guess intill that day comes I don’t know how i will react or feel. Im sure everyone gets depressed when a close friend or family member passes away to whom you were very close with. You are right though it is good to discuss and talk about it and not bottle it up inside you.

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