We have all suffered loss of some sort: death of a loved one, redundancy, divorce, termination of a pet.

All of these involve the ending of a relationship and they all cause pain one way or another.

When I was 28 my boyfriend was killed in a car crash. When I was 38 my dad suffered a stroke and died a few months later. One day after my 40th birthday party my mum was admitted to hospital and died 10 days later (she had liver cancer and we didn’t know.) My brother-in-law passed away in 2014 at the young age of 63.  A few weeks ago, my eldest brother died unexpectedly.

I don’t tell you this to be morbid or seek sympathy but to highlight that the only certainty we have about life is death.  We will all die at some point.

Taboo Topic

This is a topic that we don’t talk about openly in our society, yet it is something that touches every one of us in some way.  Death is not necessarily tough for the dead, but more so for those who are left behind.  Those who have to live with the loss, the void, the gap left by the person we loved.

In the past, clients have asked me for advice on how to deal with bereavement and of course there is no ‘template’ that suits all, but I thought it might be useful to share some of what I’ve learned along the way and used to help myself deal with grief.

Firstly, it is important to acknowledge that we all deal with loss differently.  It can prompt an array of emotions from deep sadness to heightened anger.  Some people need to share their feelings and want to talk about their loss repeatedly.  They seek support and comfort.   Others, shut down, they reflect internally, distance themselves emotionally and do not want others to intrude.  There is no right or wrong way to deal with bereavement, everyone just needs to find a way that works for them.  Having said that, it is important for each of us to check in with ourselves and make sure that we are not doing ourselves any harm which may delay the healing process.  If there is a predisposition such as anxiety or depression, grief can exacerbate the symptoms if not dealt with.

What can you do?

  • Do not focus on regrets.
  • Journal the happy memories you have.
  • Set aside time each week to see a therapist.
  • Try to compartmentalise the negative feelings whilst accepting the loss and acknowledging that your mind is on a healing trajectory.
  • Avoid ‘what ifs’.  You cannot change the past, but you can learn from it and use those lessons to create a positive future.
  • Make time each day for gentle physical exercise, even just a short walk in the park. Grief can feel physical in its intensity and the body’s natural reaction is to shut down.
  • Do not allow grief to dominate your every waking thought.  I know this is easier said than done but it is so important because the mind affects the body and negative thoughts impact the body negatively. 
  • Listen to those who are grieving and allow them to go at their own pace.  The healing period is different for each individual.

And remember, many beautiful things can be gained as a result of loss, for example: forgiveness in a family feud, strangers coming together to reminisce, individuals rediscovering their faith or creating new resolutions.  I for one am more determined than ever to live my life to the full and help others do the same.

If you have experienced loss, feel free to share below how you dealt with it.


  • I think most of us have experienced some type of loss in our lives. It can be very difficult and the tips given in this article are great.

    Reply


  • So much loss, sorry to the author. I have experienced loss of my pets (massacre by fox) and it gave me PTSD. And certain relationships being traumatic and ending badly were hard to deal with too. I don’t know how I will cope when people close to me die, my oldest family I’m guessing (hoping as I want everyone to live a LONG happy healthy life).

    Reply


  • Grief is a terrible thing. I have experienced several times in my lifetime having lost a few close relatives. However the worst situation is grieving for a person who is still actually with you .My mum had Dementia, but we didn’t realize it at first, for some reason her attitude to me totally changed. She made my life a living hell .Once l realised what she had l tried to explain and fix things but no one wanted to listen. Mum and l eventually made up and a few years later l got that phone call from my son, come mum. For 2 weeks l sat with mum we
    chatted when she could when l saw she was so tired l gave her permission to get her wings. All this time my father brother nieces didn’t speak to me at all. When Mum was taking her last breathe they didnt call me, no involvement in the funeral not allowed to sit with the family at the service or cemetery. All because they couldn’t get their head around what Dementia was all about.My grieving process has taken a lot longer than most but l know at the very end my mum was there , we talked and she told me she loved me .That’s all l need.

    Reply


  • Definitely avoid the ‘what ifs’ – it is not positive in any way and no regrets because there is no replay/redo.


    • And…grieving has no time line – it is a different experience for everyone.

    Reply


  • I’ve been trying to talk about this with my mum, at age 88 she says she knows the end is close and she doesn’t want to talk about it. So I let it go. We all deal with stuff in our own way

    Reply


  • I think it’s important that to deal with grief you have to face it and know that it will hurt. It is easy to relegate it to the ‘too painful to think about it’ but I feel it is a necessary part of grieving to feel the pain, acknowledge it and realise that in facing the pain is really the only way to allow the good memories to shine through. Which they do. Depending on the loss it can be a long road and understanding this is an ongoing process can help you to get through what may be the worst time of your life.

    Reply

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