Four Tips for Coping with the Loss of a Loved One

Angela Tollersons

Four Tips for Coping with the Loss of a Loved One

Grieving the loss of a loved one is arguably one of the most painful life experiences anyone will ever go through. Whether someone close to you is suddenly taken from your life without warning or you’ve had time to make plans before their death due to prolonged illness really doesn’t matter – for those of us who are “left behind,” the agony comes either way. There is no one-size-fits-all approach for dealing with grief, and what may be an effective coping strategy for one individual may not be the right fit for another. However, there are many ways of handling grief that have continuously helped people overcome it. Here are a few you may wish to try:

Try to plan for the unknown in advance as much as possible. Having important conversations with those closest to you, although unpleasant in nature, will ultimately be extremely helpful should you lose someone unexpectedly. For example, knowing whether someone close to you wishes to be buried or cremated (and making sure that decision is legally documented) will keep you from having to make the decision for them in the event of sudden loss. In fact, this is something we should practice ourselves, too: Create a will with your final wishes so that your grieving next of kin won’t have to make tough choices while coping with their loss.

Don’t feel as though you must get through this time on your own. This article from the University of California, Davis Medical Center points out that there are many channels of finding support, whatever your needs or comfort level [click here for article]. If it feels too painful talking to friends or family members about your loss, individual or group counseling might be helpful for you. If you draw strength from your religious beliefs, talking to a spiritual leader or practicing your religion on your own may bring you comfort.

Get some exercise. Although many of us feel like hiding from our grief by sleeping the day away, curling up on the couch and getting lost in a television program, or just generally isolating ourselves, incorporating some activity into our day can actually naturally produce feel-good chemicals that may help ward off depression. If the thought of going to a crowded gym seems like too much to bear, a solo sport like running or swimming can make a positive difference while granting you the serenity of quietly coping on your own.

Try to be patient with yourself and others. As much as we would like to hurry through the grief process, there is no hard-and-fast rule about how long it will take, so allow yourself as much time as you need. This can be frustrating, especially if it feels like others are moving on ahead of us, but it’s important to remember that everyone will have a different experience when they lose someone. It’s also helpful to remain patient with others. As this resource points out, sometimes people say all the wrong things in their honest attempts to support us. Try to keep in mind that most of the time people have only the best intentions, even if the things they say feel inappropriate.

As many of us have come to realize, there is no one way to cope with grief. Actually, there is no right or wrong way to do so. Try to remember to allow yourself to feel whatever your heart is telling you to feel – even if only for a moment – and try to have patience as much as possible. You can make it through this time, and in fact, you will.

 

3 comments on “Four Tips for Coping with the Loss of a Loved One

  1. My aunt died on November 10, 2015. She lived in a different state. Her son and I were always very close. She was hospitalized again after being released because she refused to take her medication, wouldn’t eat or drink, and was in excruciating pain. My cousin called me and begged me to come. I dropped everything and flew there as soon as I could. This aunt is my mom’s sister, so she flew-out 2 days after I did. Things were ok until my mom got there, then my cousin turned into a jerk. I am disgusted with the way he treated my mom. He yelled at her, kept her from being able to spend time with her sister, and neglected her basic needs. We didn’t go there with the expectation that my aunt would die. After several days, the decision was made to do comfort care and she was transferred to a hospice. My uncle and both of my cousins became increasingly harder to get along with. The cousin I am closest to had insisted we stay with him at his home. After he yelled at my mom, we spent 2 nights in a hotel, then agreed to return to his home. I shut-down because I couldn’t deal with all of the fighting and everything else that was going on. Even when I got what seemed like enough hours of sleep, I was exhausted. I didn’t want to run errands with my cousin, who hates all things medical and came and went a lot. I just wanted to be left alone. The hospice was a nice place. I sat outside sometimes and in what they referred to as the family room for the most part. I felt protective of my mom and was supportive of her. I was accused of doing many horrendous things at the hospice, which I did not do, for example, asking for prescription medication. I did express frustration because I didn’t have access to MY medication, but I would never and did not ever ask the hospice for ANY medication, let alone prescription medication. My cousin left my mom and me at the hospice and went home after a fight. They called a Social Worker who said we needed a night apart. We immediately said we would get a hotel room. One of the employees at the hospice spoke with the same Social Worker and a Supervisor. They all agreed that my mom and I could spend the night at the hospice. We thanked them for the generous offer, and said we would get a hotel room. They told us it was late and they wanted us to just stay there and get some rest. We said we were ok and would get a hotel room a minimum of 10 times. The hospice insisted that we stay there. It was cold and raining and we had no means of transportation, so we finally agreed to stay. Awhile later, my cousin and his sister arrived at the hospice to kick me out. They said they would call the police if I didn’t leave, and that the hospice was only letting me stay there until they could get there. Why would the hospice insist that I stay so they could come and threaten to have me removed by force if I didn’t leave when I was more than willing to leave by my own free will, and expressed that clearly and repeatedly? I found a hotel and arranged for Uber to come. My mom stood by me because we were together almost 24 hours a day and she witnessed what really happened. She knows that I didn’t do any of the things I was being accused of. They were angry with her for leaving with me because they thought she should choose them over me. Her sister was in a coma by then, so she felt I needed her more than her sister did. The hospice only has 6 beds, it wasn’t full, and she was being VERY well taken care of. As I was getting into the Uber car, my cousin called me a miserable f-ing c***. I just calmly said “no I’m not”. He angrily said “yes you are!” He needs help. We had no further contact with them, except minimally by text and over the phone to get our things from my cousin’s home. He put everything in the trunk of his car, which he can open remotely with his phone, and wasn’t even home by the time we were able to rent a car and drive there. He was angry that my mom didn’t arrive before he left, but we got up that morning, called the rental car agency as soon as they opened, they came and got us from the hotel, and we were ready because all we had were the clothes on our backs, did the paperwork, and drove straight to his home. It wasn’t physically possible to get there any earlier. We flew home that night. The next morning my mom was very ill. She went to the doctor who wanted to hospitalize her. She didn’t want to go, so he told her to stay in bed for 48 hours and if she got any worse at all to go to the ER. She complied. We left Nov. 2 and another relative called on Nov. 9 and told my mom that her sister was still alive. She said the family wanted her to come back. My dad was at the doctor for a routine check-up and had forgotten his phone. She wanted to talk to him because she was still pretty sick and didn’t know what to do. She called the doctor’s office and my dad happened to be standing by the secretary making his next appointment. The doctor has a very busy practice, but the secretary was kind enough to let her talk to my dad anyway. He didn’t know either, then the doctor walked over to the desk. My dad held the phone towards him and asked him if he would talk to my mom. I think he knew that if my dad didn’t know what to tell her, he needed to talk to her. She asked him about going back. He said “do you want to die with your sister?” She said “no”. He said “then you better stay home until you finish your antibiotics on Saturday and I want to see you on Friday if you decide to go.” She called our other relative back and told her that the doctor said she couldn’t return until Saturday. Had she gone, she would have left on Tuesday morning and my aunt died at about 12:20 am on Tuesday morning, so she wouldn’t have gotten there in time anyway. My cousin believes she was just making excuses not to go back. She was not, but after the way he treated her, I would understand if she did. She really was going to go back, after all the horrible things that happened and the very unkind way she was treated. Then, he had the nerve to send her a rather rude letter. It could have been worse, but it wasn’t nice. Still, after that she sent a kind response. She is struggling, and so am I. A couple of months ago, I never would have imagined my aunt would be dead and my cousin would hate me. He has been like a brother to me. We didn’t just lose my aunt, we lost the whole family. I am a mess and no one understands. I cry all the time and feel like I will never be ok. I have a small family, I don’t have a bunch of other aunts. This is a huge loss for me. I feel like people don’t think losing an aunt is a big deal. The 9 days I was there were awful.

  2. Pingback: Dear Angela Tollersons, I am On to You! | The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser

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