It is without a doubt one of the most stressful events in the life of an individual to lose a loved one from a sudden or mysterious death. To the observer, the pain and loneliness is there but can be dealt with easily, especially if it was ‘a good way to go.’ But to the bereaved, it is more than just the pain. It is the thought of not having to see or touch your loved on forever. Feelings of shock, anger, seclusion, sadness and confusion get all mixed up from within, and there is hopelessness that the wounds can never be healed.
As time goes by, the pain and the sadness lessen, usually when you have gone through the denial, anger, and depression stages of grief. Amidst the mourning, you are now able to open your mind to helping yourself with some essential healing measures to cope with bereavement.
How to Move Forward
Karen Doll, Psy.D., L.P writes, “Contrary to the beliefs of some, crying is an important component of mental health and wellness. The benefits of crying are often unrecognized, overlooked and under- appreciated, as it can be good for us both psychologically and physiologically.” Cry if you want. Getting in touch with your feelings is a good way to release the pain and sorrow. It lightens the body and soul, giving space for healing. Knowing how you really feel is the first step to knowing how to handle these feelings and turn them around positively for you. Share your grief with a brother, a sister, a friend. Let it out.
Help others move on. You are not the only family member who is suffering – the whole family is. So try to find solace in the stories that you share with the little ones, the past family dinners that were special for everyone, the unforgettable get-togethers. Laugh about them and relive their memories by talking about them. Help lessen the hurt of others. As the saying goes, “To ease another’s heartache is to forget one’s own.”
“To quell overwhelm, engage in an activity that you enjoy, such as listening to music, reading a book or taking a walk. And consider how you can solve the stressors that triggered your overwhelm in the first place” Marla W. Deibler, PsyD said. Engage in physical and mental activities. Get out of bed and get moving. Exercise is known to have beneficial effects on many things, and reducing stress and depression are among these benefits. It drives motivation and strength to keep going. Try dancing, yoga, meditation, or swimming. If you’re not up for the challenge yet, find more relaxing activities like getting a manicure, a massage, or going to a movie. You think they’re a waste of time but believe me, they’ll go a long way and they’ll make you feel much better.
The appetite won’t be as great, but eating healthy does wonders for the mind and body. Remember the importance of consuming the right types of food during your grieving process. Fruits and vegetables are great mood boosters that help reduce stress. Getting enough sleep also decreases anxiety and depression. Sleeplessness is not uncommon when you are grieving, and it will persist for weeks or months. Sleep aids may help but are not advisable to be taken regularly. You should also try to avoid caffeine at night.
Believe that the sorrow and pain you are suffering will go away. There’s no telling when, but the sooner you accept your loss, the better. Healing starts in the ability to think you can heal. Hold yourself together and be strong for the other members of the family. Tell yourself and tell them that they may have lost a big part of your lives, but you are not dead. Live.
“Having few or no supportive relationships can increase the risk of depression in both men and women.” Ben Martin, Psy.D. said. With that, try joining an online community and support groups who share the same sentiments and understand what you’re going through. You might be surprised at the number of people around the world who carry the same burden that you do.
If you think that you or your family cannot move forward on your own, seek professional support. Psychologists and mental health therapists are skilled in assisting individuals who have not come to terms with the death of a loved one. They can work with you in managing your emotions and picking up the pieces so you can restore your life slowly but surely.
Often, when we lose someone we love, we yearn for that last conversation, that last opportunity to make up and say sorry for things not done, for that final goodbye. Yet most deaths come like a thief in the night – mysterious, cruel. The only comfort is in accepting that all of us will go anytime. They just went ahead.
Let’s take it one day at a time. Believe that there will be better days.