The experience of bereavement is universal and yet highly personal at the same time. When circumstances change in the blink of an eye, we can be left feeling like the sky has fallen in and unsure of what we’re supposed to do to process how we’re feeling. There’s no dress rehearsal for dealing with the death of someone close to you. So if you are affected, how do you begin the slow process of putting the pieces back together? Some self-help strategies can help you to find a way forward once the initial shock has subsided.
Process It Your Way
There’s no one size fits all when it comes to grieving, so you shouldn’t feel that there are ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways to process your emotions. Some people prefer to keep their feelings relatively private, while others want to seek out support and share their memories of the person. Some find solace in focusing on the very specific, practical details such as going to compare funeral directors. Others find it hard to cope with details in the face of a significant loss and need more time to process what has happened. Allow yourself to feel without pressure.
Continue The Relationship
By its very nature, death is a sudden ending that can leave us feeling as if too much was left unsaid. There’s no reason why you have to end your relationship with that person immediately. There is a still a space in your life that they occupied. If you feel you want to continue communication, then do it. Send emails or write letters updating them and expressing your feelings of loss. If a special event happens, like getting engaged, let them know. This may seem unnatural to some, but it’s actually more naturally than abruptly ceasing all mention of your loved one.
There are plenty of organisations out there which provide support to bereaved relatives and friends. If there’s no one close to you that you feel willing to talk to about the situation, it can often be easier to address your feelings through a bereavement support group. These provide a very non-judgmental environment that can help you to feel a little less alone in the face of your loss. If human companionship feels too much, the Cinnamon Trust connects you to those who are elderly or unwell and need someone to walk their dog. Spending time with animals can be very healing for some.
Don’t Rush Decisions
If you have decisions to make about someone’s estate or possessions, its best to take a step back and don’t allow grief to cloud your judgement. You may find it impossible to be objective for a few months, so give yourself time to emerge from the eye of the storm before making any irrevocable choices.
Understand It’s a Process
The loss of someone close to you is not something you should expect to ‘get over’ Rather, grief is a fluid state that transforms over time, ebbing and peaking in response to other factors in your life. Crying is the body’s natural reaction to stress, so if you feel like crying don’t attempt to hold back. Treat each day as a new one, and gradually you’ll begin to focus more on today and less on what has happened. The pain dulls and becomes more familiar over time, and eventually, you will be able to see beyond it, even if you always carry it with you. A call to the Samaritans can be invaluable in times of emotional stress, so don’t be afraid to seek the support you need.