Written by DiveThru Team
Reviewed by Simone Saunders BSW, MSW, RSW
How To Cope With Grief After Losing Someone You Love
Published Feb 1st, 2022 & updated on Feb 1st, 2022
It’s never easy losing someone you love, but we don’t need to tell you that. The loss of a loved one is one of life’s most difficult experiences. The memories you shared with them play in your mind over and over again, overwhelming you with sadness and grief. You ask yourself what you could have done differently, whether it was making plans more often, noticing a subtle sign of illness, or encouraging them to get help. There isn’t only one way to manage overwhelming feelings of shock, grief, despair, worry, devastation, and uneasiness. Grieving is a deeply personal process, and everyone copes with loss in their own way.
It may feel like you are the only one who understands how you feel. You may not know what to do, how to act, or feel hopeless because you don’t know when things will get better. There is no time limit for how long a person should grieve, and there is no right or wrong method to cope with loss; it might take months or years because it is such a personal experience that shouldn’t be rushed.
It’s not easy to come to terms with the loss. Here are a few tips on how to cope with and understand the stages of grief.
What Is Grief?
There’s one particular line about grief in WandaVision that rocked us all when the show first came out (even if you don’t love all things Marvel like we do, this will still make sense).
In case you haven’t seen that show yet (semi-spoiler warning), there’s a flashback to Wanda grieving the death of her brother. She compares her grief to waves that keep knocking her to the ground. Vision comforts Wanda by reminding her she still has good memories of her brother, and describes grief as her “love, persevering.”
Grief can be overwhelming and affect all aspects of your life, but it also means that you loved something. It’s totally normal to feel empty, broken, and helpless after losing someone you love. That person held an important place in your life and now it feels like you’re missing a part of yourself.
The 5 Stages of Grief and Loss
The 5 stages of grief were introduced to the world by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in 1969, based on studies on how people felt when living with a terminal illness. These 5 motions of grief also show up when grieving the loss of a pet or loved one.
Not everyone goes through all the stages of grief, or at the same pace. It’s also important to note that when we think of grief, we often think of death but there are actually quite a few other things that can cause you to grieve, including:
- Losing a job or opportunity
- Loss of a pet
- Losing a friendship or losing a romantic partner
- An unexpected health scare
- Moving away from your hometown
How To Cope With Grief
In Never Have I Ever, we watch Devi cope with her father’s abrupt passing. She’s constantly reminded of her father as she mourns and copes with her grief over his death. The grief cycle can feel like it’s never-ending. Some days are wayyy easier to manage than other days, where you feel like things are getting better and you’ve reached the point of accepting the loss of a loved one. But there can be other moments where memories resurface, and the pain is too much to handle and you feel like you’re back to square one.
1. Be Gentle With Yourself
It might be difficult to treat yourself with the love and kindness you deserve when you are grieving. Allow yourself a safe space to experience all of your emotions. Allow yourself to be vulnerable in your safe area and concentrate on getting adequate sleep, eating, and feeling your feelings. Receiving messages, phone calls, or emails from others inquiring how you’re doing might be stressful. Don’t feel obligated to respond to anyone until you’re ready.
It’s also okay to seek support from friends or family; your loved ones want to be there for you but probably don’t know what to say or do. They don’t want to overstep your boundaries, so when you’re ready, tell them what you’d like, whether it’s a walk in the park, watching a movie, or making your favourite food; they’re there for you.
You may also feel a sense of relief after losing someone you love to a long illness. It’s a valid emotion, and you’re not a bad person for feeling it. What you’re feeling is relief that your loved one isn’t suffering anymore, not relief that they’ve passed. Long illnesses are tough on loved ones, who can feel helpless watching. So don’t feel guilty for your emotions, and be gentle with yourself as you work through your feelings.
2. Journal Through It
A really gentle way of understanding grief is through journaling. It gives you the ability to step back and explore your emotions and talk about them in addition to feeling them. Here are some journal prompts that you can try out:
How can I show myself compassion today?
What is one of the most incredible memories I shared with my loved one?
What’s one thing I want to say to my loved one right now?
In what ways can I honour my loved one?
You can find these prompts in the DiveThru app, where you can also track how you feel daily and work through breathing exercises to help you connect with your emotions.
3. Honour Their Memory
Grief might become so overpowering that you forget about the beautiful experiences you shared with your loved one. Find ways to honour their memory, whether that means doing an activity you used to enjoy together or creating something in their memory, like a painting or a poem. This can also help you appreciate the incredible moments you had with them, and help you remember that even though you’re grieving now, life can still be enjoyable as it moves forward.
4. Talk It Out
It’s so challenging to grieve alone. Join grief communities to support you, such as in-person groups or Facebook groups where people discuss their emotions. It can help you cope if you have a safe place to share what you’re going through with other individuals going through the same thing.
Another way to get support is to reach out to a therapist or a mental health professional specializing in grief. They can provide you with coping techniques, and also they can speak to you about how you feel, where you can be very vulnerable to them without any judgement at all. It might be tough to talk about your pain after losing someone you love, but it can help to share because you won’t feel like you’re the only one who knows this pain anymore.
Allow yourself to feel all your emotions. The pain from losing someone you love won’t go away overnight, but you can cherish the memories. Give yourself some compassion and love. You deserve it.