Everyone has to deal with the death of a loved one at various times throughout life. It is one of the conditions that is commonly faced without training or education.
The loss of a loved one is made especially difficult to confront because we live in a death denying culture. Here are 10 things you can do as part of your journey through grief that have worked for others through the years and they can work for you.
1. Find someone you trust to talk about how the death is affecting you. Don’t keep your feelings to yourself and increase the stress you are already under.
2. Be willing to listen and be open to others who have experienced similar losses and how they have dealt with them. Choose those ideas that you feel are appropriate for your use and let the rest go. Much can be learned from others who have been there and done that.
3. Practice taking your attention off your sadness and focusing on a diversion like a pleasant memory of your loved one, gratitude for all that you still have, or any topic of interest. In changing your attention it will help if you walk to another room or perform some other physical task. Switching attention is a critical life-long skill to develop.
4. Allow yourself to express your emotions. Crying is a normal human response to loss. It has a purpose: helping you cope with loss through emotional and physical release. If you can’t cry, write, paint, or draw what you are feeling.
5. Begin your new routines. With the absence of your loved one, you will have new tasks to fulfill. It’s a new life. Perhaps grocery shopping, caring for your home, car, or apartment, maybe even eating at a different time, will be different. Establishing these new routines early on is important in your grief work.
6. Trust mystery and the unseen. Many so called coincidences and synchronicities, and in some cases, special helping dreams and visions may occur. Look for them. Ask for them. They will come. They are normal. I tell every client I work with that there is nothing wrong with praying for a sign that your loved one is okay.
7. Take a daily stress break. For at least 20 minutes each day, find a quiet place, recline, and put your feet up to rest. Listen to music or the sounds of nature.
8. Discover and grieve your associated losses. For every major loss there are usually a number of secondary losses. They could be financial or have to do with meaning, transportation, companionship, dreams of the future, sex, social interaction and more, all of which are now altered. Some secondary losses will not occur for years (a graduation, anniversary, etc.). Determine these losses, talk about them, and grieve them.
9. Start looking for ways to help others even as you grieve. This ancient piece of wisdom is well founded because by seeking to give of your time and treasure to others you are taking the focus off of yourself. Your love will heal and be returned.
10. Replenish your spiritual beliefs. Many mourners find comfort in prayer and being alone in nature to speak with their creator. Nature is great therapy and thinking of your faith and values in a beautiful setting can bring comfort, new awareness, and solace. It has long been known that the more you focus on a particular thing you create more of it. Create new insights from your spiritual beliefs and how you will allow them a more prominent place in your recovery process.