Dealing With Grief: A Step-By-Step Guide For Emotional Healing After the Unexpected Death of a Loved One
Bill Allen | February 9, 2024 | Wrongful Death
Losing a loved one is never an easy event to experience, especially when it happens without any warning. Whether they die in a tragic car accident or suffer an unexpected medical condition, the grief that we bear from the death of a beloved family member or friend is the same, and it can take weeks, years, or even decades to recover from.
Healing from the loss of a loved one is never a straightforward process, nor is it something that one can be expected to move through quickly. With that in mind, though, the following steps may be able to help you deal with some of the seemingly overwhelming grief:
Focus on Yourself
There is a good rule regarding grief: “Support in, complain out.” In a time of crisis, you should provide support for those who are most in pain and vent to those who are less affected. After a loved one’s death, you are, naturally, one of the people in the most pain, which means you need the most attention and the ability to express your feelings to others.
As much as you may want to comfort others who were also affected by the loss, you shouldn’t try to exert yourself holding others up when you need help keeping yourself afloat all the same. If others seek support from you and you give it, you aren’t likely to provide the type of support that will help them heal, and either way, you’ll be prolonging your pain in the process.
The best way you can help is to direct them to other family or friends who can help while you turn your attention inward. You may think it is selfish to do so, but that is exactly what psychology says is best for you and everyone else.
Take Time For Yourself
Accepting that you should focus on yourself is one half of the equation; the other is figuring out how to do that, and for most people, it involves taking some time off of work.
It is difficult — if not outright impossible — to focus on healing when you work 40 hours a week, and what little time you have left after the fact is often devoted to activities like eating, sleeping, and cleaning. Take time off from work and any other responsibilities you have, then use that time to engage in the activities you want to.
Want to go skiing? That may be the perfect way to wash away some of your grief. Prefer to scream at the sky and eat Oreos for a week? That is just as reasonable a response. Your grieving process will be unique to you, and though others may be able to help you through it, only you can decide what it will entail.
Seek Guidance and Support From Sources You Can Trust
While you will ultimately decide how you handle your grief, that doesn’t mean you can’t get assistance from others in finding the path to healing.
The passing of a loved one can make you feel isolated or alone, but that feeling is an illusion created by the grief caused by the death of your loved one. There are still people all around you who will be more than ready to support you. All you need to do is reach out and ask for that support and accept it when it is offered.
Typically, people who are grieving may feel like they are a burden on others if they ask for help. But that can cause those who would willingly offer support to feel unsure of how to do so in a healthy and caring way.
The best way to get the support you need is to push aside any shame you may be feeling about your grief. The loss of loved ones is catastrophic for everyone; experiencing grief is normal, as is needing support for those emotions. Once you accept that fact, you should be able to move past any lingering embarrassment and request support from those who can help.
That said, as you pursue guidance, there is one important rule you must keep in mind: Never let anyone tell you what you should do or how you should feel. You want people who can give you direction without trying to force you to act in any particular way.
Professional grief counselors are very good at that — they know how to listen and elicit your thoughts and feelings without giving explicit instruction. But other individuals may also be able to provide guidance. A friend who has previously worked through grief may be able to tell you what worked for them and what didn’t in their journey.
Seek Justice If Needed
There is nothing wrong with feeling like you need some sort of redemption before you can fully heal from your grief. Even if you don’t, the death of a loved one may create financial problems that cause stress, which in turn makes the grieving process harder to handle.
Reaching out to an experienced wrongful death attorney can potentially help you recover from your grief. At the very least, you can learn about your options even if you eventually determine that you don’t want to deal with a wrongful death claim.
Healing From Grief Is a Personal Journey
If you take nothing else from this guide, at least realize that recovering from grief is a personal process. No one can tell you how to recover, act, or feel; at best, the people around you can provide the support you need to figure out how to heal at your own rate. Take advantage of their help and take some time for yourself as you deal with grief in your own way.
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