Grief is like “the gift that keeps on giving.” After the loss of a loved one, there will be many reminders of that loved one’s absence. Random moments. Sunday dinners. Birthdays. Anniversaries. The holidays, however, can be particularly painful reminders of loss. There is, after all, an empty space at the family table.
Here are some tips to help navigate this difficult time.
1. Understand that you will never “get over it.”
But with time, you will learn to live with it. Grief is the thing that none of us wants or asks for, but we are given it anyway. People we love occupy space in our lives and hearts. When they die, that space doesn’t disappear. So don’t expect to “get over it,” expect instead to learn to live with it. As time passes, the heartache will lessen. It will.
2. Adopt reasonable expectations.
There is no timetable for grief. It’s perfectly ok to feel sad about your loss, and to express that sadness, for as long as you need. Don’t place added pressure on yourself to “be ok” within a certain period of time. Grief is a natural process. Let it run its course.
3. Don’t be afraid or unwilling to remember.
Closer to the time of your loss, memories of your loved one can be painful. But those memories of happier times, continuing traditions, looking at photos, may bring you some joy. It also keeps that person’s memory alive and an active part of your family.
4. Talk about it.
Grief can be very isolating. We may not want to burden others with our sadness. But guess what? Others may be feeling the same way. Sharing your sorrows with friends and family may actually lessen the burden of your grief (and maybe theirs as well). Don’t keep feelings bottled up or “put on a brave face” just to keep up appearances.
5. Seek help.
If you feel that you are not managing your grief well (that’s a personal determination), others have expressed concern for how you’re coping, and/or your grief is negatively affecting personal or professional relationships, please reach out to a professional. Counseling can be tremendously beneficial.