Someone that means the world to you is gone. It may have been a car accident, a battle lost to cancer or an act of violence, but the end is the same--you are left behind to carry on after a tragic loss. The rest of the world keeps moving as though nothing happened but you are paralyzed. How do you start moving forward again?
After all the arrangements have been made and the funeral has ended, your inclination may be to bury your head under the covers and stay in bed forever. A few days of that is certainly warranted, but as a long term solution, it's a bad idea. You are not the one who died. Although it may be difficult to imagine your life moving forward without your beloved, move forward it must. Force yourself to get up, get dressed and go out into the world. When friends call and ask you out to lunch, go with them even though you absolutely don't feel like it.
Seek professional help. Your family and friends will want to help you through this dark time, but they aren't always exactly sure how to assist. A trained counselor or pastor is trained to help you so let them. Consider joining a grief recovery group. Sharing your emotions with others who are battling the same dark feelings can be a tremendous step toward getting your life back on track.
Read. Death is unfortunately part of the human experience. Many people have gone through the devastation of loss before you, and some of them were authors. If you don't yet feel up to sharing your feelings in a support group, settle in with a book about grief and share the feelings of the author as they describe their journey with loss. C.S. Lewis' book "A Grief Observed" is a great place to start. For a day to day grief related reading, grab a copy of "Everyday Comfort: Reading For the First Month of Grief." by Randy Becton.
Examine your beliefs about God and the afterlife. Sometimes one of the hardest parts of death is not knowing what happened to the person you lost. Are they still out there somewhere? Now is the perfect time to delve into your faith and decide what you honestly believe about the afterlife. Does it exist? If it does, do you believe your loved one is waiting for you in heaven? Answering those questions can bring unimagined comfort. A final and total loss is infinitely more painful than a temporary loss. Thus if you solidify your belief that you will see them again someday, it makes the separation easier to bear.
Talk about the person you lost. Many people make the mistake of trying to block out all thoughts of the person they lost. Friends try not to upset you by avoiding mentioning their name. That's the exact opposite of what you need. Celebrate their life. Hold a party and invite people to come prepared with their favorite anecdote about the persons you wish to honor. Consider the impact they had on the entire family or community. If possible videotape the stories and play them back when you're lonely for your loved one. One of the greatest comforts you can have are the unexpected notes and calls from people about the departed loved one. Such messages can give you the strength you need to live again. Realizing the lasting impact one person can have on many others can inspire you to make a difference with your own life. Your heart may still be broken, but you should make every attempt to live your life to the fullest in spite of your loss.
- Seek a local GriefShare group in your community.
- Do something fun you've been putting off, like a weekend trip, or a night at the theatre.
- Talk about your loved one.
- Make a scrapbook of happy memories you shared and look at it when you miss them.
- Act happy before you feel happy. The feelings will follow your actions.
- Pray for strength.
- Don't become a recluse.
- Don't be too proud to accept help when it's offered.
- Don't spend too many days wallowing in self pity.
- Don't feel guilty when the healing begins and you start feeling happy again.
- Don't tell yourself the lie that you'll never be happy again. You might start believing it.
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