Coming to terms with the death of a loved one is no easy matter. It may take years to get past the grief and achieve resolution. However, a journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step. Here are a few ways to help those who are hurting emerge from the darkness with their minds set on the future, not lingering in the past.
Accept the Grieving as a Normal Part of Life
Every living things dies. Nothing can change this fact. Knowing that our time on earth will end makes each moment precious. Yet the inevitability of loss reminds us that our sorrow is neither abnormal nor wrong. Rather, it’s part of the price we pay for having lives worth living.
This fact is hard to grasp in our modern society. We believe sadness and despair are illnesses we can medicate away; and, in fact, depression is sometimes a sign of a treatable illness. In most cases, however, grief is something to accept with serenity, knowing it, like all things, will pass in time. So acknowledge and accept your pain. This will help you to move past it in time.
Give Voice to Your Feelings
Repressing grief by acting stoic or brave is an unhealthy form of denial. It makes others feel better, but only at the expense of the grieving person. Over the long term, it can even hurt society by suppressing the life lessons learned from facing reminders of our mortality.
This may sound counter-intuitive, but research shows that unbridled happiness is harmful to human beings. Expressing your grief will not only help you, it will remind others to focus on what is truly important. So wear your feelings on your sleeve, at least for a little while.
Keep Up Routines
It’s important for those in mourning to resume their regular schedules after a suitable length of time. Expecting grieving parties to return to their career and other obligations after a loss may seem cruel. In reality, however, the familiar routine that comes from work can help the surviving party to heal. Even if you’re retired, you probably have a set schedule revolving around housecleaning, exercise, volunteer work, and other productive activities. Renew those commitments as time and other factors allow. It may do you a world of good.
Resist the Temptation to Set a Timetable
Countless myths have grown up around the grieving process. One of the most pernicious misconceptions is that grief acts according to a schedule. For example, you may have heard that 12 months is the “normal” amount of time to mourn a loved one. This is nonsense. Your sorrow is just that: your sorrow. Just as no one can grieve for you, so also no one can impose a time limit on how long you may mourn.
Channel Your Anger
Anger is a normal part of the grieving process. It can help you to recover or it can cause further harm to you and others, depending on how you use it. Lashing out at well-meaning people or unknowing third parties will help no one. Neither will turning your rage inward and abusing yourself.
On the other hand, anger can help you to turn the death into something positive. For example, let’s say you lost your loved one to cancer or some other horrible disease. You could channel your anger into raising money for medical research. This is a great way to honor the person who died while helping society.
One way to help resolve grief is to preserve heirlooms that memorialize the departed’s life and legacy. Taking care of these precious items requires special handling. This is especially the case with things made from wood, cloth, and paper. Here are some general guidelines for preventing damage to these objects:
- Use acid-free boxes, frames, and tissues for storage.
- Keep heirlooms out of direct sunlight.
- Avoid extreme humidity or temperature changes in the places where you store heirlooms.
Recovering from loss is never fast or painless. Nor is it ever complete. But the tips outlined in this post can help you to survive the ordeal as you put your life back together. Best of luck to you as your face the challenges ahead.
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