Losing a loved one is unlike any other experience we have as human beings. The acute sense of loss follows us for weeks, months, even years, and can disrupt our lives in so many ways, yet there is no one way to handle the grief. No two people will feel the same way, or deal with the loss the same. There is no given timetable, and perhaps it is this not knowing that makes grief all the more unbearable.
Fortunately, there are some small things you can do to lessen the pain and help yourself heal in a healthy way. Nothing will remove those feelings of grief or sadness; that’s not what healing is about. However, you can learn to overcome the feelings and move on to a better place, one where you can accept and come to terms with your loss and the emotions that come with it.
Here are some of the best ways to do just that.
Don’t push others away
It might be tempting to cut yourself off from others; you might feel exhausted at the mere thought of interacting with people, or you may not want to “burden” them with your feelings. However, grieving all alone can be much harder than when you have a support system around you. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a friend or family member, consider seeking help from a therapist or counselor who is specially trained in grief and loss. You can also find groups online dedicated to helping those who have just lost a loved one.
Take care of yourself
It can be easy to lose track of your own needs after such a loss, but it’s important to remember that you need adequate rest, food, and exercise to keep going. Set a bedtime every night and stick to it as often as possible, eat lots of leafy green veggies and drink plenty of water, and workout daily. It’s understandable if you feel like you don’t have the energy to exercise, but sometimes pushing yourself just a little to go for a walk or a swim can help you feel better.
Art therapy has been extremely helpful to many people dealing with stress, anxiety, or depression, so get creative and channel your grief through painting, singing, playing music, or writing. Keeping a journal or writing a letter to your loved one can also help you feel a sense of relief and closure.
Be patient with yourself
During the first few weeks after the death of a loved one, you might experience big changes in your emotions; people who are coping with grief often feel anger, sadness, denial, depression, or guilt, or any combination of those feelings, and that is completely normal. Remember that there is no timeline for your grief, no expectations. Allow yourself to feel those emotions and keep in mind that they will eventually lessen.
Turn to the animals
Spending time with a dog, cat, horse, or other calm animal can be immensely helpful to a person who is grieving or dealing with stress. In fact, studies have shown that petting a dog can lower your blood pressure and alter your mood.
Author: Jennifer Scott
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