The experience of each person’s grief is as unique as a snowflake. There is no set timetable for bereavement and you should not feel the need to rush through your grief. Bereavement is a journey that takes time and involves experiencing the pain of the loss, adjusting to an environment in which your loved-one is not present; and reinvesting yourself in new and continued relationships. Some say we never stop grieving the loss of those dear to us, but we can take steps that help the ease the pain, clear the confusion, and end the isolation that often follows and help begin to heal the wounds of grief.
Be patient with yourself. There is no quick fix. Day by day, do the small things you need to in order to cope and manage. Benjamin Franklin: “Little strokes fell great oaks.”
Learn about the grief process and how others have made it through the journey of grief. Bereavement releases a host of confusing and conflicting feelings and the journey can be an emotional roller coaster. Visit the library and check out some books or videos on the grief process. They will quickly reassure most bereaved people that their response to loss is quite normal.
Have a telephone confidant. Invite someone you are comfortable with to be your telephone confidant; someone you can call day or night, whenever the pain of grieving is intense. That way, when grief strikes at its hardest, you can reach for the phone and share your feelings and experience the support of a friend.
Cultivate an appreciation for solitude. Find ways of being alone that bring you some satisfaction and peace of mind: gardening, reading, listening to music or walking through the park.
Give yourself breaks from grief. Bereavement can feel all consuming. Make the decision to give yourself periods of relief. Block off some time to do something to distract you from your grief, such as going to a movie, walking through a mall with a friend, or inviting someone to join you for dinner.
Spend time with nature. Get outside and take advantage of the natural beauty and joy in the world. Spend time appreciating the chirping of birds, squirrels hopping through trees, the blooming of flowers, a passing butterfly, a warm golden sun or even the fullness of the moon. All of these can gently coax you out of a blue mood or a sad day.
Cultivate the attitude of gratitude. No matter what has happened to you, there still are many things for which you can be thankful. Give thanks every day. Identify areas of your life that are still good and enriching such as friends, family, meaningful employment, health, warm memories, etc. Cultivating the attitude of gratitude is a way of viewing your cup as half full, rather than half empty.
Reach out to friends. When loneliness is overwhelming, you have to act and reach out. Avoid waiting for others to call and check on you. Family and friends are often uncertain of when they should call or come by. When you are in need, reaching out to caring, supportive friends can ease greatly the load of grief as well as brighten even the darkest time.
Adapted from National Funeral Directors Association, The Director, NFDA Publications, Inc.