Losing a loved one, whether it’s expected or not, is incredibly painful. In the first days after such a loss, the grief can be all-consuming. You may feel like you’ll never feel joyful, or even normal again. You may feel heightened anxiety or like you’ve lost control of your life.
But through grief, people often learn that they are stronger than they’d previously thought. Here are some things to remember during this difficult time.
Acknowledge the pain
Human beings tend to avoid feelings that are painful or unpleasant. Grief is a powerful emotion, and many people fear that if they face it head-on, they will become overwhelmed and completely fall apart. This fear causes people to try to numb their pain.
The sooner you acknowledge your pain and allow yourself to truly feel it, the sooner you will begin to heal. Try to talk openly about the person you lost rather than avoiding the subject. It will be painful at first, but will slowly make your grief seem more manageable.
You are not alone
There are a lot of logistical details to deal with after a loved one passes. Ask for help with tasks such as notifying other family members, planning funeral services, and submitting an obituary. You’ll find that friends and family will be eager to jump into action to lighten your load.
If you need to clear out the home of your loved one, services like Clearance Solutions (www.clearancesolutionsltd.co.uk) will do it for you. They check all items in the house to make sure nothing of sentimental or monetary value is thrown away.
Going through your loved one’s personal belongings can be very painful if you aren’t ready. Letting others help with difficult tasks such as this one will make the process more bearable.
Give yourself a break
It may take a while for you to feel up to tasks that used to come easily for you. Be gentle with yourself if you aren’t feeling as productive or motivated as usual. Think about how you would treat a friend going through the same thing. You would be patient and gentle. Extend that same patience to yourself.
If you work for a company that offers bereavement leave, consider talking to your employer. It’s absolutely normal to need time to get your affairs in order before returning to business as usual.
Remember that healing is not linear
While the saying that things will get a little easier every day is comforting, it’s not exactly true. Healing from grief is a cyclical process rather than a linear one. This means that on a Monday, you could find yourself cheerful and motivated, thinking you’ve turned the corner on grief, only to be crying in bed on Tuesday.
This doesn’t mean you’ve gone backward, failed, or will never heal. It only means that grief comes in waves, just as moments of peace and happiness do. Allow these ups and downs to wash over you. Be patient with yourself and don’t give up.
Lean on friends and family
After the loss of a loved one, you may feel the urge to isolate yourself. It feels like no one could possibly understand or say anything that would comfort you. You may also feel that your sadness is too big for other people to hold and fear they’ll abandon you if you try to lean on them.
These feelings are valid, but they are not true. Think of them as negative thoughts that are just trying to sabotage your healing. Your friends and family want to help you through this difficult time. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help, even in small ways.
You can’t replace the person you’ve lost, but you can begin to move forward with a little patience, hope, and help from others.
Image credit: Freepik
Peter Wallace has been an advocate for mental health awareness for years. He holds a master’s degree in counselling from the University of Edinburgh.