After a funeral, dealing with the death and loss of a loved one can seem overwhelming and even unbearable. Coping with a loved one dying may seem like the end of the world. That loss is enough to send even the most structured person into a deep depression. For some, therapy and counseling might be the answer to help deal with the anger and grief that envelop you. You experienced a great trauma but there are ways to help prepare you to continue on with you life,
Wait to talk about your loss when you are ready. The first thing you’ll notice is everyone wants to be your confidante and personal therapist. They think because they are your friends they are now qualified to be your counselor, too. If you want to talk about your loss, then this is a great resource to you. Take advantage of anyone who is willing to listen. If you aren’t ready to open up yet, that is okay, too. Don’t let anyone pressure you into feeling like you have to talk about it. It can be really hard to open up because no one else will understand your pain.
Move on when you are ready. Everyone grieves at different speed, even family members grieving over the same personal loss. While one person might feel a healing power in reminiscing and talking openly about the loss, it is okay if you are not comfortable with that. You grieve in your own way. If you are the type that wants to honor your loss, please be aware of the pain of others in your life as well. While you may mean well, you might actually cause more pain by constantly bringing up a still tender memory.
Be prepared for holidays and significant dates. Your first holiday without a loved one will be the hardest, but that doesn’t mean others won’t be just as painful. Birthdays and anniversaries carry just as many memories as Christmas and Thanksgiving. Significant dates like the first day of school or the start of football season will also be hard to deal with. For our family, New Year’s Day is a bittersweet way to bring in the New Year because of a significant loss that we suffered on that day. Even twenty years from now I know I will shed tears on New Years Day; while others might not understand that, for me it will always be okay.
Be prepared for the unexpected. Inevitably you will have friends and acquaintances that don’t know about your loss. What do you say when an old friend comes up to you and asks, “So how are you?” Do you tell them the truth, that you are miserable and hurting and in a lot a pain? Or do you just force a fake smile and tell them everything is okay? What about when they ask how your family member is? Even after a significant amount of time, this will really hurt, especially if you are not prepared for these types of questions. Think about who might ask you tough questions and go ahead and think about what kind of response you want to give. You don’t have to give details if you don’t want to. Having a pre-set generic answer for potentially troublesome questions will help you deal with them by not having to dig back into painful memories.
When you lose a family member you feel like your whole world just ended. But life keeps moving on and that means you have to as well. Your friends and family members will be a great resource to you in your time of need. Lean on them as much as you need to, just don’t expect them to always know the right thing to do or say. Remember, your loss is personal to you and you grieve in totally different ways, so no one will know how you feel better than you.