4 Important Things to Do When You Lose a Loved One

Posted October 24, 2019 by in Health + Fitness
Serious cheerless man looking down

There are many hard times in life, but perhaps none harder than working through the loss of one near and dear to us. Coping with such a loss can be a deeply personal experience. We all handle grief in different ways, and if it is the first or even second time you’re experiencing this loss, giving yourself the space to process can be vital. 

There are a few steps you can take to help the grieving process when you lose a loved one. Grieving can feel like a walk in a pitch dark room, but knowing the steps you can take is like being able to find a handrail in the dark. 

Read on, and we’ll walk you through a few tasks worth considering if you’re dealing with a great loss:

  1. Don’t Hide From the Feelings

We all handle our emotions differently. Some people wear them on their sleeves, while others prefer to keep a more stoic stance, at least in the public realm. The emotions that might come over you after losing a loved one are intense and varied. 

You might feel denial, anger, sadness, shock, despair, guilt, or yearning, among many other feelings. The intensity of these feelings may cycle or shift quickly, and your moods may rise and fall rapidly.

Sometimes, these emotions might overlap and come on all at once. It’s easy in this state to feel overwhelmed. You might feel as if you’re losing your grip. In this situation, some people try to clamp down on these feelings, hide them, or store them away. 

This isn’t a healthy way to process what you’re feeling. In fact, it might only elongate the time needed to truly come to terms with and confront your emotions. Accepting that this cocktail of feelings is normal is important to the grieving process. 

You need to remind yourself that whatever reaction you’re having is completely normal. You have no need to feel ashamed or scared. Giving yourself the room to own the emotions you’re experiencing can be hugely helpful during this time. 

  1. Lean on Your Support System

It’s amazing how many other people our lives touch. It’s very likely that your loved one had many others who are dealing with their loss in the same way as you. Grieving with these people can be very helpful. 

There will be times, of course, that you would rather process your feelings alone. But being able to rely on others– friends, family, the members of your community– can be a big relief. Not only can these people be a source of emotional support, but they can also aid you in keeping your life on track. 

It can be hard to get the energy to do things like cook meals when deep in the throes of the grieving process. A support system can make sure you’re taken care of and that your basic needs are met during this difficult time. 

  1. Get Closure

Depending on the specifics of your loved one’s death, you might feel a lack of closure surrounding the end of their life. This is certainly true if they were lost too soon as a result of an accident or preventable incident. 

Sometimes it is necessary for us to find closure to be able to properly grieve a person’s loss. There are different ways to do this. It might be as simple as taking the time to fully understand an incident and how and why it occurred. Coming to terms with the details can allow a certain sense of acceptance to move in over the confusion.

In other cases, you might need justice to be served to feel a true sense of closure. If your loved one passed away due to someone else’s negligence, you might consider bringing a wrongful death claim against them. Winning such a case might allow you to feel that you’ve stood up for your loved one.

You can learn more about how to make a claim and see if it is the right move for you. 

  1. Embrace the Positive Aspects of Life

There may be some time following the death of a loved one where you don’t feel comfortable doing certain tasks. Even, or especially, ones that you used to love.

There is a certain feeling of guilt that can come from doing things we enjoy while processing a great loss. In some way, we need to allow ourselves time before we feel we can be happy again.

Allowing this happiness, however, is a very important part of working through the grieving process. You can’t allow yourself to avoid the feelings of joy forever. It’s not healthy, and it’s certainly not what you’re loved one would want. 

After some time has passed, you need to make a concerted effort to ‘get back out there,’ as one would say. Reconnect with the activities, people, and places that make you happy and embrace them. It might feel weird at first to get back in the rhythm of these things, but it’s an important first step towards resetting your life. 

Even if you have to force yourself at first, getting back into the motion of things can eventually lead to a more natural and relaxed feeling. 

There’s nothing harder than having to say goodbye. Feelings of grief can be overwhelming when you lose a loved one, but it’s important to process these feelings head-on. The above information can be hugely helpful for anyone working through this great kind of loss. 

Need more mental health advice? Check out our health page for more.