Getting Over a Loss
Grieving takes courage, stamina, and patience. It’s a process that takes time, but there are things you can do to help it along. Honor your feelings. Specific stages mark the process; they recur and flow into one another:
- Anger, Sadness, Anxiety/depression
- Acceptance/moving on
Accept them as normal
- Take good care of yourself
- Grief is stressful
- Get regular checkups
- Go for a massage
- Eat well
Since sleep may be disrupted, look for restful moments you can give yourself. Acknowledge the fatigue. Be patient. Letting go is hard work. Let yourself cry. Crying supports your immune system. Tears soften hard feelings, loosen tight places, and open the heart to tenderness. Get close to people. Death tears you from roots, safety, and belonging. Share your feelings and your love. Ask for what you need. If you feel isolated and have no friends or family nearby, join a support group. Being connected to others eases the loneliness. Recognize that loss changes relationships. Families are organic systems, and people have roles in those systems. If you lose a parent, look to see who’s now filling the role. Try to discuss these shifts. If you’re a widow, some friendships may go. Some couples may no longer feel comfortable around you. Nurture the friendships that work, and let go of those that don’t pursue a dream. Perhaps you always wanted to sing but never took the time. Now’s your chance. Join a choir. You’ll meet new people and discover other sides of yourself. Self-confidence blooms when you take a risk. Exercise, dance, aerobics, sports, or martial arts relieves stress, lifts depression, and improves your body image. Pick something you enjoy, and savor your sense of well being. Honor your loved one. Make a special scrapbook. Dedicate a fund. Set up a memorial. Think about the essence of that person and how he/she would like to be remembered. Acknowledging your past affirms your love. Minimize bitterness, jealousy, or self-pity. These emotions will sap your strength, weaken your coping skills, and feed depression. Choose to view grief as a teacher. The pain of grief pushes us to grow. If we see it as a challenge, we can use it to deepen our lives. Grief can reveal hidden resources of resilience, compassion, and generosity. Facing it can free us from fear. Help others. Turn from your own problems by giving to other people. Within six blocks of your home there are people who need you. You’ll find satisfaction and new connection to community. Use professional services. If you feel chronically overwhelmed, paralyzed by your feelings or numb, find a grief counselor or psychologist who can guide you through the transition. Seek inspiration. Turn to nature, the arts, things spiritual. Mountains and oceans remind us that life is bordered by death and that much of life is about surrender. Music and dance nurture the unspoken yearnings of the soul. Silence, meditation, or prayer brings solace. Now is the time to live, one day at a time. One moment at a time. One breath at a time.
Special tips for widows:
- Get competent legal and financial advice
Acute grief can cloud your decision making. The first year is usually not the time to sell your house, move to another state, or quit your job. Good advisers can protect you and your future. Become your own best friend. Being alone is a challenge. It forces you to solve your own problems, figure out your own needs, learn to enjoy you own company. Be realistic when dating. It takes guts (and practice!) to re-enter the singles scene. Look for friendships, honest communication, shared interests. Go slowly. Be guided by strength rather than loneliness.