Different Ways of Grieving: How to Take Care of Yourself After Losing a Loved One

At a little more than 78 years of age, the average life expectancy in the United States continues to trend upward. In 1950, the average life American life expectancy was a touch over 68 years and by 1970, 1980, and 1990, those numbers had grown to 70.78 years, 73.70 years and 75.19 years respectively.

Longer life means good things for all Americans, but eventually everyone passes away.

Losing a loved one, no matter how old they are, is a tough thing to handle and everyone deals with grief in their own way. No matter how you deal with that pain and grief, it’s important to take care of yourself after the loss of a loved one and there are many different ways of grieving:

Different Stages Of Grief

For those unfamiliar, there are five different stages of grief and loss that were put forth by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in 1969:

  • Denial and isolation: You tell yourself that the death of a loved one isn’t happening.
  • Anger: The reality of the situation sets in and you may feel angry and resent the loved one who’s died.
  • Bargaining: You go through a series of “If only” scenarios to shield yourself from the reality of the situation.
  • Depression: You feel sadness and regret and may feel you’ve spent less time with loved ones than you’d like.
  • Acceptance: You make peace with the loss of a loved one and can cope with their health.

It’s important to note that because everyone grieves a loss differently, the five stages of grief aren’t always experienced in the same order by every person. Sadly, some folks may never reach acceptance over the loss of someone they love.

Though there are different ways of grieving, there are also many ways to cope with the loss of a loved one. Some focus on mental health, some focus on physical health and some focus on emotional health, but all of them can be helpful during the grieving process.

Go To The Doctor

You may not know it, but when you’re grieving, your increased stress levels can increase your risk of illness. This is the perfect time to get to your local doctor and get yourself checked out. Meeting with your doctor can reinforce that you’re healthy and can also help you deal with any pre-existing conditions you have that may be impacted by heightened stress levels.

Stress, even when you’re not dealing with grief can be detrimental to your health. You may feel like you need to focus your attention on other things, like the health of your loved one. The sting of their death may still be fresh, but ignoring your health can land you in a hospital for any number of reasons. By seeking out medical attention at a local medical center, you’re taking an important step to take of yourself.

Medical centers can offer a range of services, from physical health check-ups to mental health resources. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor when you think you need help.

Get Some Sleep

Hand in hand with making a doctor visit, you need to make efforts to get good sleep. Following a regular sleep schedule can keep your mind sharp, put you in a better mood, keep your heart healthy, and can boost your immune system. In the aftermath of a death, sleep can be hard to come by, but taking a natural sleeping aid can help you get the sleep your body needs.

Eat Healthy

It may be tough to think about eating healthy when you’re grieving, but it can do your body a lot of good. By taking care of your body with nutritious meals and drinking plenty of water, you’ll boost your physical state as well as your mental state.

Get Moving

Everyone has different ways of grieving, but one of the best things you can do for yourself is to find a way to move your body. That might mean going for a walk outside. That might mean throwing on your running sneakers and going for a long run to clear your head. That might mean practicing yoga or going to the gym. By being active and getting up and about, you’re helping your body release pain and tension that often accompanies grief.

Find Time To Connect

There are any number of things you can do for your betterment as you grieve. It’s important to find healthy living tips to take care of your physical well-being, but your mental well-being is just as important.

On that note, you should find time and ways to connect with others. That means connecting with family and friends. That might include simple things like getting together for lunch with a friend, going for a walk with a family member or scheduling playtime with your kids to connect with them before you take them to day care. Even as we all have different ways of grieving, it’s important to remember the importance of having a support system.

Seek Out Perspective

We all have different ways of grieving and when a loved one dies, you may think that no one else in the world knows what you’re feeling. The truth is that lots of people have been where you’re at.

If you’re not sure what to feel or you’re having a hard time coping, it’s a good idea to seek out different perspectives. These can help you gain a better understanding of what it’s like to grieve, how other people have felt and how they coped with grief. One way you can find these perspectives is by attending seminars on grieving. These seminars have great keynote speakers who can offer they own personal stories about grief and help you try to make sense of the feelings you might be feeling.

Remember To Breathe

Grieving can take a lot out of someone physically and mentally, so it’s important to take a few minutes to breathe now and again. Taking deep breaths and breathing with intention helps you stay focused and also helps turn off your body’s stress response.

If you’re looking for a way to breathe more mindfully, take several five-minute breaks during the day. Take deep, long breaths as you keep your eyes closed. Focus on long exhales that allow your body to release stress and tension.

Consider Meditation

With all the different ways of grieving, you can find any number of healthy living tips to help yourself cope. Along with finding time to breathe purposefully, you might also consider taking up meditation.

There are several different types of meditation, but all of them have a singular purpose of creating inner harmony and finding a sense of calm. Meditation does have some religious ties, but ultimately it focuses on achieving peace through finding awareness and altering consciousness.

Generally speaking, there are six common types of meditation:

  • Spiritual meditation: The goal here is to create a silent environment around you to seek a deeper religious connection. Many people practicing this kind of meditation will use essential oils like sage and sandalwood to heighten the experience.
  • Mantra meditation: Very simply, this involves focusing on a word or a phrase and repeating it to help clear the mind. Repeating the mantra allows you to become more aware of your physical and mental well-being as well as your environment.
  • Transcendental meditation: This is arguably the most popular type of meditation and works best for those who prefer structure in meditation. Practicing this type of mediation allows for customization from one person to the next as each person finds what helps them focus best.
  • Movement meditation: If you find peace in being active, this is a form of meditation where you let movement guide you, whether you’re walking, gardening or doing some other sort of activity. If your mind tends to wander, this can be beneficial since most of your focus will be on whatever action you’re doing.
  • Mindfulness meditation: As thoughts come into your mind, you pay attention to them without becoming involved with or judging them. The goal is to be aware of your thoughts and take note of any patterns. You can improve your focus during meditation by focusing on breathing or on an object.
  • Focused meditation: This involves concentrating on your senses. That could include focusing on your breath or by listening to sounds or staring at an object. This form of meditation can be little difficult for a beginners as you may not be able to keep focus for more than a few minutes at first.

Let Your Emotions Out

If you have a loved one who passed away after a long battle with an illness like cancer, it can be a tough thing for a family to watch and it’s easy for emotions to flow. You may have cried at your loved one’s funeral services and you may find yourself crying from time to time as you think of your loved one.

It’s important to know that it’s ok to cry.

Whether you sob uncontrollably, weep openly or cry quietly, there are many benefits to crying, even as you might be hurting from the loss of a loved one:

  • Stress relief: The buildup of stress can contribute to a multitude of health issues and crying can help cut through that stress. If nothing else, it can provide a temporary release.
  • Toxin removal: Crying can also be something of a blank slate emotionally because it allows grieving folks to release stress hormones that build up in the body.
  • Less manganese: Crying is also beneficial because it reduces the body’s level of manganese. Why is this important? Manganese affects mood and heightened levels of it can lead to aggression and anxiety.
  • Embracing emotion: Perhaps most importantly, crying allows people to acknowledge the feelings they’re experiencing. Though there are many different ways of grieving, crying is something of an equalizer because it can reinforces the strength of relationships people have with others, it can elicit sympathy and assistance and it can make folks stronger mentally and emotionally as they work through the grieving process.

Be Patient And Focus On The Positives

Dealing with a loved one’s death involves a lot of different variables, especially if you’re directly involved with end-of-life planning such as cremation arrangements or deciding on whether or not they would rather have a funeral. Helping to craft a will or making sure that a loved one gets proper emergency care in their final days are other components that can affect your well-being later on.

Dealing with all those things can seem overwhelming and the death of a loved one can add to feelings of being overwhelmed as a person might be consumed by grief. The important thing to remember is that everyone has different ways of grieving and it’s ok if it takes you longer to grieve than others.

One of the best things you can do is be patient. Since everyone experiences the five stages of grieving different, it’s important to be patient. Grief doesn’t end in a week, a month or even a year for some folks. You might find that lots of people try to give you advice or tell you to move on. It’s important that you take the advice that works for you and follow your own way.

People have different ways of grieving, but not everyone gives themselves permission to mourn. It’s important to give yourself that permission and let time unfold. It’s said that time heals all wounds and some people find that it may take years before they’ve properly grieved the loss of a loved one.

It’s also important to note that healing from grief doesn’t always look like “getting over it” or “moving on with life.” Instead, you can focus on the memories you have of a loved one, the stories they told and the time you spend with them. Your loved one may be gone, but the legacy they left behind and the memories you have of them don’t have to be.

Grieving the death of a loved one can be a tough thing and everyone has different ways of grieving. By taking time to focus on yourself and your personal betterment, you can find ways to process your feelings, understand your feelings, and give yourself time to mourn a loved one’s death while also finding avenues to cope with such a personal loss.

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