How to deal with Grief after Losing a Loved one?

Everyone dies, and everyone grieves. But everyone deals with their grief in their own

unique ways. While there is no right or wrong way to grieve, there are certain things that

may help us go through the difficult emotions following loss. This article hopes to share

some ways one may find helpful to deal with the feeling of grief.


1.Identify trusted few

Grief is often accompanied with difficult emotions. It may thus be helpful to reach out

and share the difficult feelings with trusted people around us. It is important to choose

the people who make you feel most understood and supported and ask them if they are

willing to support you during difficult moments.

Our public grieving self and private grieving self can be totally different from one

another. Therefore, letting chosen and trusted few people know about your need for

support can help you avoid confusion regarding who to reach out to during crisis

moments. It will also make those people aware of the significant role they have in your

life.


2.Allow the Numbness

When we experience a sudden loss, feelings of shock and/or disbelief are very

common. These responses protect us because it allows the mind to process what

happened. Even after many years have passed following a loss, it is likely that certain

occasions and events bring up these feelings of shock/numbness. These could be

events like that of birthdays, anniversaries etc.

In such a situation, allow yourself to experience the numbness irrespective of how

recent or old the loss might be. One of the things that you can do is to bring attention to

your senses. By paying attention to your senses and noticing details through each of

your senses, you can become more aware of the present moment. This may help in

soothing difficult emotions which may sometimes feel too overwhelming to manage.


3.Allow Multiple Feelings

Loss can also bring up multiple feelings. Apart from numbness and sadness, there

could also be anger, guilt, ambivalence and even relief at times. For example, it is

possible that the loss of a person who passed away after a very extended period of

illness may bring about feelings of relief (especially for the people who have been

helping them as a primary caretakers); loss could bring about ambivalent feelings as

well (especially if the person lost was someone with whom one had strained

relationships). Losing someone can also bring feelings of guilt and anger.

It is absolutely okay to feel each of these feelings and maybe even others!


4.Remembering

Even when we lose someone physically, they continue to live in us through our

memories. Sometimes, the way we remember and make meanings of our losses also

shift and change over time. Pay attention to what is helping you make these shifts (Eg.

Spirituality; Service etc.). What does not change is the fact that our memories and

meanings are the legacies through which they live on. It is okay to also not find any

meaning and to pause and reflect to feel the feelings associated with our losses.

Remembering people through journaling, writing them letters, keeping a photo album or

a “box of memories” and anything that reminds you of them or comforts you might serve

as things you could go back to for the years to come when you may miss them.


5.Paying Attention to Your Body

Our bodies store a lot of our memories and feelings. And grief can also have an impact

on the physical body. It could be affecting our sleep, appetite, energy levels, muscle

spasms//pains etc.

It is therefore important to pay attention to our bodies. Pay attention if you are

experiencing fatigue and/or pain in your body. Consult a physician, if necessary. There

are other professionals who work with the body and who can help explore feelings

through bodies and arts. Eg- Dance Movement Therapy Practitioners and/or Expressive

Arts Therapists. These mediums may be helpful for those people who like expressing

themselves through mediums other than just talk.


6.Go Towards Your Grief, Not Away from it

There is a difference between grief and mourning. Grief is the feeling and the thoughts

we have when someone we love dies. Mourning is how we express our grief on the

outside.

Grief can bring up so many different emotions. What happens if we suppress these

emotions is that they find their own ways to express themselves in a different

manner/form. It is also important for us to realize and keep in mind that if someone is

not mourning, it does not mean they are not grieving. Societal structures prevent us

from expressing our true emotions and it is important to reflect how such social roles

and structures can influence the expression of our emotions. In some instances, doing

‘well’ after a loss could also mean avoidance of feelings that are difficult to face.

Sometimes, we may not be supported by our near and dear ones in our journey of grief.

In such cases, it may be helpful to reach out to those people who are supportive of the

same.


7.Compassion

The journey of grief can be a long one and there is no preparation for it. Therefore it is

important to realize that there is no right way to grieve. A lot of times we face pressure

from society or from ourselves to be over our grief. Being compassionate with our own

unique process of grieving can help us accept our grieving self and allow us to

experience and express our feelings for as long as it takes us. If we feel tired, it is okay

to take a break and/or rest or go for a vacation. Taking each day as it comes and

coming back to our breath can also serve as powerful anchors to practice self-

compassion. All that is about grieving is what we feel and how we express it.


8.Seeking Professional Help

Sometimes, losses and the feelings related to the losses can be difficult to process. In

such instances, a psychologist/therapist can help you with the journey of grief. We do

not have to wait for it to show up in other ways. A professional can help us understand

our difficult emotions and help us deal with those.


Loss is an integral part of our human experience. I hope this article helped you

understand grief better and gave some ideas about how to deal with loss. I’d like to end

this article with the following quote-


“What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose. All that we love deeply

becomes a part of us”- Helen Keller

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