Almost all of us will be forced to deal with the death of a loved one at some point in our lives. Grief is a profound emotion that can be difficult to recover from, but it is possible to bounce back from the depths of grief while still maintaining the love and affection you felt for the person you lost. By picking up the pieces and working to heal the wounds, know that you’re doing exactly what your loved one would want you to do, and don’t feel guilty for moving on.
Edward T. Creagan, MD, is an oncologist accustomed to giving bad news to individual patients and their families. But when he lost his own mother, he found himself drained, physically exhausted, mentally foggy, and unable to carry on with everyday life. But he says what he learned from his experience can help others who are dealing with grief. Here are his suggestions:
Actively grieve and mourn
Grief is an inner sense of loss, sadness and emptiness, while mourning is how you express those feelings. You might be in charge of planning the funeral or memorial service, wear all black for a time, and keep your lost loved one in your mind constantly. These are all normal and necessary parts of the grieving process.
Acknowledge your pain
Your wounds may never go away if you can’t accept that the pain of grieving is part of moving on towards a feeling of healing.
Look to loved ones for support
You may wish to spend all your time alone, but isolation isn’t a very healthy way to deal with grief. A Friend or spiritual leader can help you to heal. Allow loved ones and other close friends to share in your sadness or be there for you when you break down in tears.
Don’t make major decisions
Grief clouds the mind. If possible, put off big decisions like changing jobs or making financial changes until you feel recovered. If you must make decisions right away, look for guidance from trusted loved ones.
Take care of yourself
Grief consumes a lot of energy. Your desire to live and ability to follow your normal routine may disappear, buried under an avalanche of grief. Try to get enough sleep, eat healthily, and include physical exercise in your day.
Remember that time helps, but it might not cure
Time can make the acute pain of loss less intense and make your emotions less painful, but your feelings of sadness and loss may not ever completely disappear. Accepting this new normal will help you reconcile your loss.
Losing a loved one is terrible, but someday the sun will shine again. Life will go on, even if it will never be quite the same.
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