The Loss of a Loved One
People die. This is a fact of life, a sad fact, but nonetheless a fact of life. Yet, as certain as we are that death will be part of our life sometime in the future, we never seem to be prepared for this loss. There is no easy answer for coping with the loss of a loved one. According to the USAA Educational Foundation, your ability to cope with the loss of a loved is based on several factors, including:
• Your personality and coping skills
• Your cultural and religious background
• The individual you have lost
• How the loss affects you
• How much support you have from family and friends
The primary thing to remember is that recovering from a loss of a loved one is a process that takes time. Some may find it easier to move on with their lives, while others may find it more difficult.
For most of us the loss of a loved one results in two forms of grief: Anticipatory or Complicated. Anticipatory grief results when you are waiting for someone to die after a long illness, whereas complicated grief results when the loss is sudden as in a suicide or auto accident.
Grief can manifest itself in many forms; such as anger, fear or panic, loneliness, mood swings, insomnia, loss of memory and even physical issues (such as hair loss). Many people seek the assistance of trained counselors, clergy, and even local support groups to help cope with their loss.
Each of us deals differently with loss, but rest assured we all must deal with this event. We need to give it the appropriate amount of time to recovery, and keep our expectations (and our close friends and family’s expectations) for recovery reasonable.
In the article “When a Loved One Dies: Coping with Grief” (source: USAA Foundation), the author points out the following four steps toward recovery:
1. Maintain healthy routines.
• Get plenty of sleep.
• Don’t attempt to reduce the pain of your loss by using drugs or alcohol.
• Exercise regularly – every day if possible.
• Eat well.
2. Maintain emotional needs.
• Talk about your feelings with someone.
• Write a journal about your emotions.
• Do something you enjoy.
• Begin to plan your life, not just react to it.
3. Accept help.
• Let folks know you would enjoy a homemade meal occasionally.
• Accept offers for car pooling or child care.
• Allow others to take you to doctor’s appointments.
• Let others sit with you while you talk about your feelings.
• Accept the fact that others want to help you, just as you would want to help others in need.
4. Move forward.
• Find the way back to “normal” that works best for you.
• Allow yourself to help others in need.
• Realize that you will get past this initial grief and you will move forward with your life.
Once you understand what to expect when a loss occurs in your life, you will be better equipped to handle the grief that follows. It may not reduce the time it takes you to work your way through your grief, but it will allow you to make more sense of the entire process.