Nobody wants to think about the death of a loved one, but it is something that does happen to everyone, and when it does, it can be difficult to know what to do. From informing all of the relevant authorities to dealing with financial matters, trying to get your head around the cost of Probate and talking to children about their departed relative, there is a lot to think about and do.
However, once the initial shock is over and the funeral and all of the practical matters have been sorted, it can feel like you are a bit lost at sea. There is nothing left to occupy your mind and keep you busy, and that is when grief can hit you like a tonne of bricks. Sadly, we can’t stop that feeling for you, but we can share our tips for beginning to move forward with your life and dealing with grief so that it all feels a little less overwhelming.
After some time, the raw intensity of your grief will more than likely subside, but it is important that you do not rush the grieving process.
Those first few days and weeks are when it hits you in the face. You feel it physically – heart racing, not able to breathe, and other symptoms such as a loss of appetite and not being able to sleep. Over time, the intensity of those feelings will ease off. It doesn’t feel like it to begin with, but it will. You will find yourself smiling again, having longer chunks of time where you’re not overwhelmed, and where life returns to some form of normality, albeit a very different normality. However, it is essential to remember that grieving is a very individual process – everybody will feel it in different ways and for varying lengths of time, and that there is never a right or wrong way to deal with it. Sometimes, you can be minding your own business months or years later, and something reminds you of the person, and it feels as fresh as it did when it happened. That is totally normal, as well.
So how do you move on?
One of the first things that you need to do in order to begin to move on with your life is to accept what has happened. Acceptance is one of the most challenging parts of the process, but you can’t start to move forward until you have reached that point. For some people, going to view the body in the funeral home can help them accept that the person is no longer living. For other people, the funeral service is a way of saying goodbye physically. However, when it comes to accepting it emotionally, this can be a lot more difficult. Again, there is no right or wrong way to do this, but you will get to a point where you accept that the person is not coming back.
Don’t be afraid to cry
Even now, with much more awareness of emotions and mental health, there is still a stigma around crying and showing emotions, particularly if you are male. However, acknowledging your feelings and allowing yourself to express them, even if that is through crying, is important. Bottling things up is not going to help you move forward, and can actually hold you back in the grieving process.
Have a funeral that suits their personality
Planning a funeral can be difficult, both in the practical sense and emotional. You may well be tied by religious beliefs, financial constraints, and family politics, but if you can, choose a funeral that represents who your loved one was as a person. If they were a larger than life, bubbly character, why not ask people to dress up in bright clothes, or if they were a soccer fan, wear their favorite team shirts or colors. There is no law that you have to wear all black outfits. You can also be creative with the type of music, as well.
Continue to speak about them
Just because we can no longer see or speak to our loved ones does not mean that we cannot continue to talk about them – or to them. Some people find it comforting to visit wherever they have been laid to rest and talk to them, or talking to photos of them, especially when something good or something difficult has happened in their life. Many religions believe in an afterlife, and this can be comforting to some bereaved people. Talking about the person can also be helpful – tell people about the sort of person they were, and how they had an impact on your life.
Continue their legacy
If your loved one did something special – perhaps they did charitable work or fought for a particular cause – why not carry on their good work? If they believed in something such as education, go out there and get an even better education and learn something new, as a way of honoring them. If they loved to travel, book a trip to somewhere new. There is no better way to understand a loved one than to live some of their experiences.
Remember how the person impacted on your life
One of the best ways to remember someone and move on from the initial stages of grief is to think about how that person had an impact on your life. Perhaps they instilled a love of learning or travel in your life? Maybe they were the person who taught you how to drive or draw? Focusing on those positive things can make a massive difference.
Ask for help when you need it
As a society, we tend to see asking for help as a sign of weakness, but knowing when we need a little extra support and having the courage to ask is something that should be commended. Getting professional help if you are struggling is a good idea. It may just be that you need someone who is outside of your immediate circle to talk to, to give you a more objective outlook on your circumstances and feelings. Sometimes, you might need a little extra support in the form of therapy, counseling, or medication. Remember, this is nothing to be ashamed of!
While the pain of your loss is real and must be felt in order to work through it, there will come a time when you must begin to live your own life again. By working through overcoming the death of a loved one, you will come to a place of accepting the death as a reality. You will find yourself able to move forward and embrace your life without your loved one by your side. It is a cliche, we know, but think: would that person want you to be wrapped up in grief for the rest of your life? Probably not: they would want you to be moving on and living your life to the very fullest.
Death and the loss of a loved one will always be something present in your life, and you will never truly go back to being the person you were beforehand. However, the pain, while it will always be there, will get easier over time. You can learn to grieve without avoidance, and with acceptance, and this is the healthiest way of coping with death.