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
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!
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
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
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
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