Coping with the loss of someone we love is one of life's most painful challenges, but grief is a necessary part of processing the loss and remembering your loved one. Though the sadness can last for a prolonged period of time, it typically lessens with the passage of time.
Everyone has different coping mechanisms and so everyone grieves differently. Though most can recover on their own if they have good social support, it may take months or years to come to terms with a loss. There's no specified time period. Never let anyone tell you to get over it and move on.
It was once thought that grief went through a series of five steps or phases--denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. But professionals now know that grief is not so simple. We don't progress through these stages in a step-by-step fashion. When we lose someone we love, we may find that we fit the stages to a tee, or we may skip all but one. We may race through them or drag our way to acceptance. As we're all unique, we may even add our own stages. In fact, the actual grief process looks a lot less like a neat set of stages and a lot more like a roller coaster ride.
You may find some of the following strategies useful in coming to terms with the loss of a loved one.
First of all, know that mourning the loss of someone you love will take time, but the journey can also be a catalyst for a renewed sense of purpose. Through grief, people often find a new direction and new meaning in life. Don't be afraid to try something new. Along with the good memories, let your heart embrace hope.
Talk about the death of your loved one with family and friends. It will help you process the loss, and the memories will ease the weight of your sadness.
People experience all kinds of emotions after the death of someone close, some unexpected. Sadness, anger, frustration, shock, confusion, and even exhaustion are normal. Accept these feelings and take care of yourself. Eat well, exercise, and get plenty of rest. It will help you get through the day.
It can also help to talk to others who're grieving. Reach out to them and share your experiences. There are support groups online where you can connect with others who've suffered a loss. Sharing your stories will make you feel better and help you cope.
Celebrate the life of your loved one in a way that allows you to honor that unique relationship. Donate to a favorite charity of the deceased, go through photos of happier times, write your deceased loved one a poem or letter, or plant a garden in your loved one's memory. Do whatever feels right to you.
If you feel stuck or overwhelmed by your emotions, it may help to talk to a counselor or other mental health professional who can help you cope with your feelings.
And finally, don't lose hope. Brighter days are ahead.