One of the hardest challenges an individual faces in their life is the passing of a family member. Losing a spouse, sibling, parent or grandparent can be particularly excruciating. And while loss is a natural part of life, the impact it has on us can shove us in shock, confusion and pain. Your initial grief may be extreme, with pain still trailing you as time passes. Sometimes, losing a parent can affect your everyday life, for weeks or even years, and understandably so. The sadness lessens with time, but no one decides how long your grieving process goes on, there is no right or wrong time.
No matter the relationship you had with the deceased, losing a family member can feel like crushing pain in your chest. Everyone reacts differently to death and loss, employing coping mechanisms that help them overcome their grief. You could be embracing one of the phases of grief without knowing, not particularly in progressive steps. If your relationship was difficult, a new emotional dimension will possibly be added to your grief. Conflicting emotions may rise and it would require time and perspective to heal and cope with the loss.
Yet research has shown that with a social support group and mindful habits, one can recover fairly quickly. While there’s no right or wrong way to cope, there are a few methods that you can embrace to recognise your pain and begin healing.
1. Understand your feelings are valid
Grief sometimes opens a wave of emotions that may not always make sense. Sadness is one of the most common feelings after facing such a loss but it’s okay if you don’t feel sad. There could be emptiness, anxiety, frustration, or a sense of unreality. A significant loss has naturally significant impacts on your wellbeing that can seem difficult to cope with.
A few emotions that could take over include:
- Hopelessness or despair
- Physical pain
- Anger or frustration
- Confusion or disbelief
- Relief that their suffering is over
2. Let yourself feel everything
There’s no right way of grieving, no time limit and no steps you need to follow to reach acceptance. Not allowing yourself to be aware of your present emotions may seem like the pain will end quicker but burying your grief can be damaging. Don’t let anyone’s opinions or expectations rush you into something you’re not ready for. Let the process unfold for you naturally. It may compel you to force a few unpleasant realities that are difficult yet necessary.
3. Talk about the death
Grieving such a major loss takes time but it could help if you express yourself amongst colleagues or with friends or family. It would help you understand and find support rather than push you into isolation. Grieving is a personal process that can feel lonely but there are people who will support you unconditionally.
4. Take care of your wellbeing
A loss can affect your state of mind significantly. Poor concentration, sleep problems, frustration, increased substance use could plague you. You could also be facing the stress of wrapping up your loved one’s affairs or work could be difficult to juggle. Eating nutritious food, exercising and getting plenty of sleep can restore physical and emotional health. Don’t skip any meals, drink a lot of water, indulge in mindful habits like meditation or journaling to process your emotions.
5. Help others dealing with the loss
Spending time with your family can help everyone feel connected while coping with the loss. Sharing stories or watching their favourite movie could feel like you’re keeping their memory alive. These small efforts could help someone else or even you cope. Helping someone will help you feel better as well.
6. Remember and celebrate their lives
We often focus on the one we lose but we never celebrate the life that they’ve lived. Loss is extremely difficult but taking the time to remember and honour the memory of the ones gone can celebrate everything that they added to so many people’s lives. Passing on a family name to a baby or starting a family ritual in their memory could honour the relationship that you all shared.
Embrace the power of positive affirmations to heal emotionally.
Sometimes, it may feel as though nothing you do will fill the emptiness inside of you. But you don’t need to face these emotions alone. There are support groups you can join, online chat forums, professionals that you can reach out to. Gaining support can help you honour their memory and regain your sense of self.