Tips for Coping with Loss
- Allow yourself to move in and out of whatever emotions and thoughts you have naturally. Emotions can range from disbelief, guilt, anger, sadness, to acceptance. Know that dealing with grief shortens its duration.
- Don't try to control or reshape your emotions out of the fear that you might hurt others, lose control over your emotions, or might be misunderstood or seen by others as vulnerable. Your grief belongs to you.
- Know that grief will change you whether or not you want change, and whether or not you express your emotions. You cannot prevent change by fighting your feelings. Instead, change is a part of surviving loss.
- Grief ends when you can finally let go of the intense connection you have with what you have lost. This is not the same as the end of love. Your love may never die, but the pain of loss can be significantly eased.
- Major loss can seem unfamiliar and overwhelming. One reason for this is that when it occurs we often grieve many minor losses we previously tried to ignore. We can avoid some of this intensity by allowing ourselves to feel all of our losses- major or minor- at the time they first occur.
- Allow yourself flexibility with your schedule and daily routine during their grieving process. While many people want to continue to act "normal" during this period and stick to their regular schedule, and some continuation can be helpful, this is often not practical in the aftermath of a serious loss. Instead, it may be better to allow time for dealing with the loss.
- While grieving a loss, it is generally best to put off any major life decisions, as people's ability to think straight and use good judgment can become clouded by their loss. It is best to avoid making any serious decisions such as whether or not to move, change jobs, make financial changes or to commit to a new relationship until grieving is over.
- Though you may feel like withdrawing, know that recovering from loss is easier if you reach out to others. Think about what family members, friends, or organizations might be sources of support for you. Find your own balance.
- During the grief process, it is important to practice good physical care. This includes getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising. All of these things will keep grieving people's bodies in good shape while they deal with emotional issues. Research has shown that exercise works like a mild anti-depressant. When such self-care steps are not taken seriously, people may develop conditions (medical and otherwise) which can complicate the grief process.
- We each need to mourn in ways that feel right for us. Funerals or memorials are only one way, and your mourning does not have to end when a funeral ends. Think about creating your own personal or group ritual to help you through the grieving process. You might consider making your own memory book, or expressing your emotions artistically, or through poems or journaling, musically through songs, or physically through a pilgrimage to a special place. Our ancestors combined most of these in their own mourning rituals. The opportunity still exists for you to create your own personally meaningful ceremonies, celebrations, and ritual activities.