When we’ve lost someone we love, life is forever changed.
Our job is to grieve…but most of us don’t know how to grieve.
Here are some ideas on how to grieve:
- 1. Gather people you love and trust.
We often don’t think we need others, but deep down we really do. Talk if you want, be silent if you want. The presence of others reminds us we’re not alone in our suffering.
- 2. Work to accept that your loved one really is gone and will not return.
You will go back and forth between belief and disbelief. That’s ok. Your mind may try to minimize your loss by denying the importance of that person in your life. Most people feel both positive and negative emotions about the people they love the most.
- 3. Feel the grief.
Feel sad. Feel hurt. Feel anger. Feel the emotion that comes up. Cry when the urge comes. Emotions can even be experienced physically. As long as you allow yourself to feel something, you will not always feel this way. If you avoid the pain (for example, by idealizing your loved one or by staying too busy), you put yourself at risk for depression.
- 4. Adjust your roles and your world in ways that acknowledge that the person has died.
This task often starts to happen three months after the death. You may have to take on roles or tasks that your loved one used to fulfill. You will likely feel helpless at first, but we learn by doing (and by making mistakes). Take it one step at a time and give yourself lots of grace. This task also includes the process of developing a new identity. You may feel lost at first, like you are floating around without direction. Work to find meaning in the loss. Grapple with questions like, “Who am I?” “Who will love me?” “What am I going to do now?”
- 5. Give yourself 4-6 months before working on this next task.
Give the deceased person a new place in your life, and continue to live.
This does not mean you should forget your loved one. This task does mean that this person has a new role in your life. Similar to when a friend moves away, we have to adjust and open ourselves to new connections. When we hang onto the idea of our friend as still being here for us, we aren’t able to make a new friend. Meet new people, learn something new, give back to the community in new ways.
- Life is not over…life has changed.