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Dealing With Death

Ten steps to help you get through the grieving process when you feel like you are lost in a sea of emotional turmoil.

There’s no doubt about it—at one point or another, you will be faced with the loss of a loved one. Whether it is a spouse, sibling, aunt, uncle or friend, the grieving that follows can be very real and absolutely terrifying.

While many people try to deny the grieving process in order to avoid the pain that follows, it is much more productive to face your feelings of loss head on. Of course it will be difficult and life will never be the same, but with the right support and guidance you will eventually find a way to enjoy your life again.

Below are 10 steps to help you through the grieving process.

  1. Allow yourself to accept the loss: It’s natural to deny the loss, but this will only create more anxiety and prolong healing. Allow yourself to accept the loss that your loved one is really gone and be present in the moment.
  2. Adjust to the emotional loss: Emotionally, you will be a basket case as your mind experiences a range of emotions. Surround yourself with people that make you feel good as you adjust to your new life.
  3. Adjust to the physical loss: It’s common to temporarily forget that your loved one is no longer physically present. You might walk into a room and expect the person to be there only to find that they are not. Or perhaps you find yourself pouring two cups of coffee instead of one—this is normal. Be easy on yourself.
  4. Allow yourself to feel the sadness and pain that comes with the loss:  This is not easy to do but the more you push away the pain the longer your recovery will take. Give yourself permission to grieve.
  5. Distract yourself with activities: Join your local senior center and engage in activities that you’ve wanted to do for a while. Take that cooking class or join some sort of a social group.
  6. Find a support group or seek therapy: A support group may be helpful. Sometimes knowing that others are experiencing similar feelings will help you work through your own feelings of loss. Therapy is also beneficial. Just having someone to listen to you will help put your thoughts into perspective.
  7. Don’t feel pressure to remove the deceased belongings from your home: Just because your loved one is no longer physically in your home you do not need to remove their belongings. Perhaps you find comfort in smelling his or her clothing. This is OK. Do not rush removing their belongings from your home. You will do it if and when you are ready.
  8. Plan ahead so you are not alone on anniversaries and special occasions: Special occasions can be especially painful and will conjure up feelings of loss all over again. Be sure to plan ahead with activities in order to keep your mind busy on these difficult days.
  9. Create a special area in your home to reminisce over the good times: Having a space where you can store old pictures, letters and gifts will give you an opportunity to connect with the deceased on different level. Go to this space when you feel like reminiscing over the special times you’ve shared together.
  10. Everyone heals at different speeds: Grieving is a personal process and there is no right or wrong amount of time to spend mourning. Only you know what is appropriate for your unique situation.

For local and free bereavement support contact the following resources:

Kara Grief Counseling (A non-profit support group)

Meetup support group (Community based support group)

(Offers a four-week bereavement class)

L.A. Chung March 02, 2012 at 06:17 PM
These are useful tips, as are the resource links. A friend swears by Kara for guiding him through his father's illness and death. Healing Environments, a non-profit located at 358 State Street in Los Altos, is also another resource and their beautifully rendered, comforting publications are offered for free.
Robin March 02, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Thank you for sharing this. I was told not to make big decisions (like moving) for a year...sometimes I use that just as a reminder that things don't have to all be done NOW in the heat of the moment when my brain is scrambled. We have a wall of photos in the house, so I can share memories of special people with my kids, who didn't have the chance to get to know those people we loved before they were born.

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