You can’t know for sure how a loved one’s death will affect you. It can be more overwhelming than you expected and you might experience feelings you did not anticipate.
It is not uncommon for the bereaved to slide towards serious depression.
Knowing how to cope with the difficult period is essential for your physical and mental health.
Eventually, time makes things better but you have to get through this rough patch first.
Here are some tips to guide you.
Know What to Expect
Knowing what lies ahead makes things slightly easier.
Everyone deals with bereavement differently. Generally, however, most people will experience a specific mix of feelings and emotions.
Overwhelming sadness is the most common. You’ll cry a lot and sometimes, unexpectedly. All kinds of things could trigger a wave of sadness even months after the death of a partner or family member.
Be gentle with yourself. Let yourself feel sad and cry. It’s normal.
Before feeling sad, some people experience a sense of shock. It’s like you are in a daze as you come to terms with life without your loved one.
At times, it can feel like you’ve lost your sanity. You haven’t. It’s a temporary state. Just make sure you have friends and family around to support you.
As the numbness wears off, the sadness begins to set in. It’s not unusual to sometimes feel angry at someone, God or even yourself. Other times, it’s guilt that overtakes you.
All these feelings are normal.
Get Support from Family and Friends
Your family and friends are usually the best support system. You may be tempted to withdraw and get into a shell, but that often makes grief harder to deal with.
If you have a close friend or family member, talk to them. Talking about the death and your loved one can actually help you cope with your emotions.
Family and friends can also help you in other areas you might be struggling with like cleaning, staying well fed and taking care of a pet.
They can also help with simple errands such as picking up mail and settling all the post-funeral requirements such as notifying utilities and checking up on insurance and benefits.
Get Professional Help
If you don’t have a support system or you feel your family cannot help, seek the services of a professional bereavement councillor.
They will help you work through your emotions, fears and grief. They can also help you avoid depression and keep you from turning to negative coping mechanisms like alcohol.
Cruse provides face to face as well as group support for bereavement. If you cannot travel, call their free national helpline at 0808 808 1677.
Take Care of Yourself
Here are a few ways to do it.
- Do not isolate yourself. Dealing with bereavement on your own makes it more likely that you will get into depression or turn to things like alcohol. Make efforts to spend time around loved ones.
- Even if it is hard to sleep, try to get some rest. All the emotions you will experience can be exhausting. So find time to lie down on the bed or sofa away from people.
- Eat and stay hydrated. Force yourself to eat something, even if it’s just a few bites at a time. Staying hungry and dehydrated will put your health at risk.
- Take a shower and wear clean clothes. Do not neglect yourself.
- Do not take drugs or alcohol. They may provide some respite from the barrage of emotions but it’s only temporary. If you feel a strong urge to turn to drugs, seek help from a professional councillor.
- Get into a familiar routine. It makes life feel more predictable and dull the sadness a little bit.
Out of all these tips, the most important one is getting the support you need. It can be from a close friend, family members or a bereavement support group.
And don’t be ashamed if even years later, you still need to go to a group or talk with a councillor. There is no specific timeline on how long you should grief.