Coping with the loss of a close friend or family member may be one of the most difficult challenges many of us face. When we lose a spouse, sibling, or parent, our grief can be particularly intense. Loss is understood as a natural part of life. However, we can still be overcome by shock and confusion, leading to prolonged periods of sadness or depression.
Everyone reacts differently to death and uses unique coping mechanisms for grief. Research shows that most people can recover from loss on their own over time if they have social support and healthy habits.
Here are 5 ways to handle loss after someone passes:
Accept your feelings.
Facing your emotions is healthy and essential for healing. You may feel sadness, anger, anxiety, or guilt. All of these reactions and feelings are normal. Every emotion has a message regarding an underlying need that can help you heal. It’s OK to be sad and feel a sense of loss and allow yourself to experience joy and happiness.
Talk with those close to you about the death of your loved one.
Let others know, such as friends or colleagues, what you are going through. This helps you understand what happened and keeps you connected with your loss. Avoiding your feelings can lead to isolation and will disrupt the healing process. Find someone who’ll encourage you to talk about your loss. You might schedule a gathering or a visit with friends or loved ones when you’re likely to feel alone or be reminded of your loved one’s death.
Take care of yourself.
The grieving process often takes a toll on your body. Get plenty of sleep, eat healthy foods, and exercise. Healing walks in a park among nature is soothing. These self-care actions can help you recover physically and emotionally.
Help others who are also dealing with the loss.
You may be isolating yourself with grief. Helping others benefits you by making you feel better. Spending time with loved ones who also are grieving the loss can help everyone cope. You can share stories or listen to music, that was your loved one’s favorites.
Keep the memories and celebrate the life of your loved one.
Anniversaries of someone you’ve lost are challenging times for friends and family. These times are essential for remembering and honoring those you’ve loved. Write a letter to your loved one or a note about some of your good memories. You might collect donations to a favorite charity of the person who died, pass on a family name to a baby, or plant a “memory-garden”. Honoring your loved one keeps the happy memories alive with an appreciation of your unique relationship. Do so in a way that feels right to you.
If your grief gets worse over time instead of better or interferes with your ability to function in daily life, consult a grief counselor or other mental health provider. Unresolved or complicated grief can lead to depression, other mental health problems, and other medical conditions. With professional help, you can re-establish a sense of control and direction in your life — and return to the path toward healing.
More from Andrea:
Grit, Grace, & Gravitas, now available on Amazon, expands our understanding of emotional intelligence and deconstructs the mysteries of presence, reconstructing them into actionable leadership skills. What if executive presence isn’t the mystery it has been made out to be? There is no shortage of information or opinions on increasing one’s executive presence. In Grit, Grace and Gravitas readers will learn how grace, and the way it enhances the impact of their grit and gravitas, is the game-changing strength of exemplary leadership and executive presence.
After reading this book and applying the knowledge it provides:
- You will have a more compelling and impactful presence-your presence will evolve and be a contribution in ways it has never been before.
- You will be a more effective leader-you will have the keys to bringing out the best in yourself and those you lead.
- You will understand how to be effective, and even masterful in dealing with the emotional realities and challenges of leadership that otherwise get in the way of solutions, innovation, and progress.
Praise for the book:
“Whether you are an aspiring leader or deep in the trenches of leadership, the authors give you the practical strategies for handling challenges, moving forward in difficult times, empowering others, and generating an environment that breaks through ineffective patterns to innovate, adapt, and thrive.”
–HELENE LERNER, Founder, Womenworking.com and TV host
“Grit, Grace & Gravitas is the ultimate guide to becoming a more compelling, effective leader! This book will transform the way you lead — and how you develop relationships. A must read!”
– MARSHALL GOLDSMITH, New York Times #1 bestselling author of Triggers, Mojo, and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There
“Grit, Grace, & Gravitas is a breakthrough book. With one memorable phrase—the constructive power of grace—authors Jane Firth and Andrea Zintz have markedly expanded our understanding of leadership presence. Through detailed and compelling real-life examples, Firth and Zintz skillfully illustrate how the dynamics of grit and gravitas influence leaders’ actions and how grace is the super power that transforms relationships. Grit, Grace, & Gravitas is an intimate, approachable, and compassionate look at the work of leaders, and what it takes to bring out the best in self and others. Applying what you learn will positively change your life.”
– JIM KOUZES, coauthor of the bestselling The Leadership Challenge and Fellow, Doerr Institute for New Leaders, Rice University