How to Deal with Grief & Loss

Losing a loved one is one of the most trying things you’ll ever experience. You may feel as if you’ll never recover or that the weight of the loss is too much for you to bear. Although truly difficult, coping with grief is possible.

What to Expect After Loss

First, know that grief surfaces in many ways. You may feel emotions like sadness, shock, guilt, anger or even fear. You may also experience physical symptoms of grief such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety

All of these emotions and symptoms are normal after the loss of someone you love. And as you start to heal, so will your heart and body. CaringBridge hopes these tips can help you on your path toward healing.

1. Allow Yourself to Grieve in Your Own Way

Realize that every member of the same family grieves differently. Give each other lots of grace and love.”

—Becky H.

No two people cope with loss the same way. Although there are many similar emotions and symptoms, there is no “normal” way to grieve. 

During these times, it’s easy to feel guilty when you don’t grieve in a certain way or the way the world tells you to. But this guilt won’t help you heal; it will only make matters worse. Give yourself permission and grace to grieve in the way that’s best for you.

2. Seek Out a Grief Counselor or Support Group

Grief counselors, also known as bereavement counselors, are trained to help guide people experiencing a loss through the stages of grief. As you grieve, you can easily become overwhelmed with emotions that need an outlet. And while you may feel isolated by your sadness, you don’t have to carry your emotions and experiences alone. A grief counselor is there to listen to your pain and help you through it.

Loneliness is a common emotion felt during the grieving process. To combat it, try reaching out to grief support groups in your area. These groups are typically composed of others who have gone through loss and are also struggling to recover. You may find much-needed solace from those who understand exactly what you’re going through.

3. Take Time Out for Self-Care

Grief is very much a full-body experience. As mentioned earlier, there are both emotional and physical symptoms involved. You must take care of your body as you heal, so make some time for self-care.

For example, take time to eat and nourish your body. Drink plenty of water. It’s also important to do things you enjoy such as:

  • Spending time in nature
  • Painting
  • Exercising
  • Journaling
  • Reading
  • Taking long baths
  • Watching your favorite TV shows

Self-care comes in other forms like asking for time off from work or saying “no” to extra activities and responsibilities. Only you know what you can handle right now. Don’t allow guilt to creep in. Instead, do what you need to do for your health and wellbeing.

4. Be Around the People You Love

“Include other family members in a day out just to be away from home and enjoy the day.”

—Barbara L.

Even though you’ve lost someone close to you, there are others still here to support you and lift you up. Spending time with loved ones may shift your mind from loss toward what you still have right in front of you.

Surround yourself with family and friends that love you. Ask a friend or family member to go to lunch with you or to come over for a visit. Meet up with a friend or loved one for a long walk. Or schedule some time with your pals for a night of board games or pool. 

It’s also important to hear that you shouldn’t fear asking for support. It’s common to feel as if you’re imposing or being a bother to others. Those that love you will support you through this time. Lean on them.

5. Allow Your Faith to Comfort You

If you’re a religious person, take time out to pray, meditate or attend church. Faith is a critical part of our lives and is a great comfort when struggling through loss. You can also reach out to your faith community members for additional support.

6. Surround Yourself With Memories

“Remember the really fun, good times you had with your departed loved ones. There were many, many more good times than there were bad.”  

—Jamie C.

Surrounding yourself with things that remind you of your loved one can help keep their memory alive. Place photos of your loved one around your home. You could also have someone sew a special pillow or blanket using one of your loved one’s belongings. 

Another great idea is to create a memory book of photos and keepsakes you can flip through when moments feel especially tough. Or, start a memory journal where you write down special moments as you remember them.

You can also host an event to honor their memory. A celebration of life can be a great way to commemorate your loved one and reflect on happy memories with close friends and family.

7. Allow Time to Do Its Work

“Time heals all wounds” may sound like a cliché, but it’s often true when it comes to grief. It will take time for you to learn how to live with your loss. Be patient with yourself and don’t try to rush the process. Be present and allow yourself to feel what you need to feel in the moment.

If you feel your grief is only getting worse as time moves on, you may be struggling with complicated grief, or experiencing depression or anxiety. Please reach out to your doctor or mental health physician for support and help.

Things to Remember During This Time

Self-care and other tasks such as visiting your loved ones might be tough right after a loss. On some days, you may feel like it’s all you can do to get out of bed. If this is where you are right now, here are some things to remember:

  • You can do this: It might not feel like it right now, but you will get through this. Try focusing on the small things. For example, one day, you’ll realize your loved one wasn’t the first thing you thought about when you woke up.
  • You’re not alone: There are people out there ready to support you, from counselors to family members. Reach out when you’re ready.
  • Grief isn’t linear: It’s common to start feeling better only to go back to feeling emotional over your loss. It isn’t your fault and it isn’t a setback. Instead, it’s the normal cycle of grief.

What Tips Do You Have for Coping With Grief?

Have you experienced a loss? Are you currently on the path toward healing? If so, what tips do you have for others coping with grief? Feel free to share them in the comments below. You might just be a guiding light for someone going through a difficult time.