How to Cope with Losing a Loved One
Dealing with Losing a Loved One
Hello again, my friends!!! It has been waaaaay too long.
I hope you are all doing well and enjoying your summer... anyone else super excited for fall though?!
When we launched Self Care by 3D Success last year, I did not expect it to take off the way it did. So, I’m sorry there hasn’t been a new blog post for a while; I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had much time for anything else other than keeping up with the Etsy shop!
We also just finished our move to Colorado Springs, where we’ll thankfully have a lot more space for the business. I feel so blessed to be an entrepreneur and to be able to work from home, especially during this difficult time given the pandemic.
Sadly, one of our bestselling spa boxes has been the Sorry for Your Loss gift set/ Grieving Friend gift (below). It's a unique alternative to flowers/food and encourages the recipient to take time for themselves as self-care is so important, especially during the grieving process.
Since all of our gift sets come with a personal note, I saw just how many people were losing loved ones to Covid. Some people even reached out to me with their stories, which were heartbreaking.
I don’t personally know anyone who died from Covid, so running the Etsy shop actually gave me unique insight into the wide-sweeping effects of this deadly virus on the U.S.
And while our self-care items provide a comforting escape from life’s hardships, there must also be holistic healing on a deeper level, especially for us HSPs. So, I am hoping that this post will help those who are dealing with the grief of losing a loved one.
Everyone Grieves Differently After Losing a Loved One
Some people release their emotions immediately while others may be numb for a while or unable to express their feelings. Remember that everyone grieves differently - allow yourself the space and grace to grieve in the way you need to.
However, stay away from drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism. It might work in the short term but can quickly become an unhealthy crutch that not only jeopardizes your health but also stands in the way of true healing.
Grieving is a Process
Time heals all wounds – to a degree.
Although right now you may feel as if you are going to implode from the overwhelming sadness, remember that it won’t last forever. The intensity of the grief will subside over time.
Some people find that the feeling of loss never goes away; it ebbs and flows depending on your mood, surroundings, and other factors. You might be doing ok one minute and then all of a sudden something triggers you, sending you into a grief spiral.
This is normal.
Allow yourself to feel the full range of emotions that can manifest when we lose someone we love. Going through your grieving process is how you will be able to heal and move forward.
Recognize the Stages of Grief
One of the most well-known books about coping with loss is “On Death and Dying” by psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross. The author of this seminal work outlines the five stages of her grief model, also known as DABDA.
It is important to note that not everyone experiences all -or any- of these stages, and certainly not everyone goes through them in this order.
However, recognizing the stages and knowing that you are not alone in experiencing them can help with the grieving process after death. So, here they are:
- Denial- Initially, it can be difficult to accept that the person actually died and is not here anymore. You may find yourself in a state of shock in which you simply cannot process what has occurred.
- Anger- Once reality sets in, you may feel gypped. “Why me?” is a common sentiment at this stage. You may even question your faith (how could God do this to me, why did this have to happen?)
- Bargaining- At this stage, you enter into negotiations with the universe, clinging to irrational hope in a desperate final attempt to get your loved one back. (“Take my life instead!”)
- Depression- When the reality and finality of the loss finally settles in, you may feel deeply sad, hopeless, or even numb. This stage is again, different for everyone, but may be characterized by fatigue, loss of interest in things you used to find fun or interesting, and maybe even wanting to die or having suicidal thoughts.
- Acceptance- During this stage, you accept that your loved one is gone and there is nothing you can do to bring them back. The sadness remains, but a new perspective emerges – one that allows you to realize that even though they are gone forever, you are going to be ok.
If you feel tightness in your chest and your stomach is in knots, some breathing exercises are in order.
Deep breathing is one of the easiest and fastest ways to soothe stress and anxiety after the loss of a loved one or any traumatic experience.
When we are sad, angry, or nervous, we tend to take small, shallow breaths. This triggers sympathetic nervous system responses such as heightened anxiety and panic attacks, which obviously only makes things worse.
Breathing deeply, on the other hand, engages the parasympathetic nervous system, which slows the heart rate, eases muscle tension, and releases hormones that relax the mind and body.
This article has some great instructions on how to perform 5 different deep breathing techniques. Also, here is a helpful YouTube video - Deep Breathing Exercises for Beginners:
*Start slow – even five minutes a day can have a profound, lasting impact on your health.
Deep breathing goes hand in hand with mindfulness and can be especially effective when performed in conjunction with meditation and/or yoga.
Embrace Personal Growth
Through this hardship, your resilience will strengthen, making you better able to cope with all of life’s trials and tribulations.
We humans are made to be resilient and adaptive in order to survive. Lean on your inner strength. Losing a loved one is never easy, but you are strong enough to endure.
Expressing gratitude is one of the best things you can do to reframe negative experiences and avoid ruminating about past traumas.
So, focus on the positive. Instead of replaying the moment you received the bad news or wallowing in guilt over things you should have said or could have done, remember all the good times you had with your loved one.
Find a deeper meaning in the loss. Did your loved one teach you a valuable lesson or help you to see things from a different perspective? Implementing that wisdom in your life moving forward is a great way to honor their memory.
Learn from Your Past
In our short lives, we experience loss many times in various forms – we’ve all had to deal with losing a pet, a family member, friends, jobs, homes, etc.
Remember all the losses you suffered before this one and realize that you are still here. You made it through before and you will make it through again.
- How did you cope with your prior losses?
- Were there any coping mechanisms that could be helpful in this situation?
- What is the best way to grieve a loss for you?
Was there anything you learned from those experiences that you could do differently this time to help you in coping with grief and loss this time?
This article contains some really helpful exercises designed to help you or your grieving friend cope with losing a loved one.
Lean on Your Support System after the Loss of a Loved One
It may help to talk about it with loved ones or even be a shoulder to lean on for someone else who is coping with loss as well.
Don’t ignore or stifle your feelings- this can lead to bigger problems down the road both psychologically and physically. Your family and friends want to be there for you. This is the time when you really need them and that’s what they are there for, so let them help.
This is also a good time to lean on your faith. You may find comfort in God, Jesus, Buddhist philosophies, spiritual beliefs, meditation, yoga, or any other “higher power” you believe in.
If you don’t feel comfortable opening up to someone, consider writing in a private journal. Journaling is a powerful tool for working through many problems, from depression and anxiety to reaching goals.
It can help us to face our true feelings and to engage in self-analysis. Sort of like a brain dump, writing in a journal helps to get it all out of your mind and onto paper – which can be very cathartic, especially after losing a loved one. Studies even show that journaling can strengthen the immune system, lower blood pressure, and help with insomnia.
If you are really struggling or you have been struggling with the grief for a prolonged period of time, it may be best to seek grief counseling. A professional can help you with accepting and coming to terms with the loss, working through the grief, and adjusting to life without your loved one while still maintaining a connection with them.
Spend Some Time in Nature
Studies show that just 20 minutes outside is enough to reduce stress levels. Simply being in nature helps us to feel connected, grounded, and at peace.
But if you feel restless and find that you have a lot of nervous energy, walking, gardening, or any form of outside exercise are optimal outlets.
Take Care of Yourself
During this time of loss, it may be difficult to eat, sleep, exercise, and go about your normal routine.
Make an extra effort to look after yourself and set aside some time to take care of yourself – your body and mind need it! To make sure you get in your self care, it might be a good idea to schedule a routine for yourself, like a Self Care Sunday.
Everyone’s idea of self-care is a little different, but it can involve things like taking a relaxing candlelit bath, essential oil aromatherapy, and meditation. Looking for more ideas? Here’s a list of 33 self care ideas for stress relief.
*Be especially vigilant around the holidays and meaningful dates such as anniversaries.
Sorry for Your Loss Messages to Help Someone Cope with Losing a Loved One
It can be challenging to know how to express your condolences to a grieving friend or family member. My Self Care by 3D Success customers have provided hundreds of excellent examples of words to comfort someone who lost a loved one:
Here are a few of my favorites:
- Sharing in your sorrow and keeping you in our prayers.
- A life need not be long-lived for it to have been meaningful.
- Be the things you loved most about the people who are gone.
- We are thinking of you every day and sending lots of love your way.
- A beautiful soul is never forgotten.
- We are holding you close in our hearts across the miles. Sending all our love.
- I am so sorry to hear of your grandmother’s passing. Thinking of you and sending comfort.
- May the peace that comes from your memories with your dad comfort you in the days ahead.
- “Like a bird singing in the rain, let grateful memories survive in times of sorrow.” -Robert Louis Stevenson
- We are thinking of you. Please remember to take care of yourself during this difficult time.
- Marley was the best dog ever and I know you are missing him terribly. He’ll always hold a special place in my heart. I’m here if you want to talk.
- Wishing you peace and tranquility. Please let me know if you need anything at all.
- Our thoughts are with you and your family as you mourn the loss of your sister.
- Sending our love with deepest condolences for your loss.
- I’m so sorry you have to go through this – just know you are not alone.
- Our hearts are heavy after the loss of Pete. He will never be forgotten.
- May you be surrounded by loving memories of your special mother always.
- Wrapping you in love and hugs as you go through this difficult season of loss.
- Thinking of you and Anne on the anniversary of her passing. Remember, she is always with you, as are we.
- Sending healing vibes and strength your way for the days to come.
- We are broken-hearted over the loss of your brother. Praying for you and your family.
- Sending our love, support & prayers for strength, patience, and healing.
- “When we lose one blessing, another is often most unexpectedly given in its place.” – C.S. Lewis
- Thanks for including us in such a beautiful ceremony. It was obvious how much the kids adored George. Please know we are always here for you and would love to have you join us for dinner anytime.
- Praying for you every day and sending you all the positive vibes. No matter what happens in life, I will always be here.
- Your mom was such a warm, caring, wonderful woman and she has an amazing daughter. Love you and hope you are doing okay.
- You are strong but God is stronger. He will get you through this.
- You now have a beautiful guardian angel looking out for you every day.
- Life is tough, but so are you. Hang in there and take care of yourself during this process.
- Hoping you can find some time for yourself to rest, relax, grieve, and do whatever your soul needs.
- I’m so sorry to hear about Dylan. Please know that I am only a text or phone call away, anytime, day or night.
- Remember in all the chaos to take a moment to simply breathe.
- It’s ok to not be ok right now. Just know I’m here for you.
- Edgar was such a beautiful human being, and we are so lucky to have known him.
- Sending you energy, thoughts, and meditations. My ears are here for listening.
- Sending hugs and so much love to you and Nate.
- Praying for peace and healing after your loss. I’m always here to talk.
- Papa lived a long and incredible life. May his memory be a blessing and his legacy everlasting.
- We are here. You are loved.
- The ones we love are never gone; they live within our hearts.
- In loving memory of your daughter, gone yet not forgotten.
- Death leaves a heartache no one can heal. Love leaves a memory no one can steal.
- Your son was a blessing, his memory a treasure. He is still loved beyond words and missed beyond measure.
- “Grief is like the ocean; it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” – Vicki Harrison
- Those we love don’t go away, They walk beside us every day, Unseen, unheard, but always near, Still loved, still missed and very dear.
- Thinking of you and your family as you celebrate Jeff’s life.
- I can imagine that all the angels in heaven sang a song of love as Jesus welcomed your sweet mom into heaven.
- The loss is immeasurable, but so is the love that is left behind.
Over to you ... any tips on how to help a grieving friend cope with losing a loved one? Leave a comment!
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