How to Recover from a Loss
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"If you're feeling low, don't despair. The sun has a sinking spell every night, but it comes back up every morning."
Did you lose someone special recently? One of the hardest things to recover from is a loss of a loved one (i.e. friend, child, spouse, partner, cousin, aunt, uncle, parent, grandparent, pet, etc.). It can seem like life will never be the same now that your loved one is gone, and to a certain extent you are right, however, every day you will heal from the loss. Don’t get me wrong, you will always miss, love, and long for your deceased loved one, but you will adjust as time goes on. It is important to understand that it is normal to grieve for your loved one, who has passed. In fact, it is a healthy response to a loss.
It is your way of dealing with your current reality. Everyone grieves differently, so it is important to grieve in your own way, at your own time. During the grieving process, you may experience fluctuating emotions (i.e. sadness, anxiety, depression, anger, guilt, frustration, despair, regret, hopelessness, helplessness, etc.). Although it may not feel like it right now – you will recover from the loss. Grieving will help you process what happened, and make peace with the loss; so that you can cherish the time you spent together, and move on with your life. Are you wondering how to recover from a loss? If so, you have come to the right place. This article will give you steps that will help you heal from the death of your loved one. Listed below are steps to recover from a loss:
Shock & Disbelief
When you first find out that someone you loved has passed, your initial reaction may be of shock and disbelief. Why? Well, because you are now faced with an unexpected change in reality. This sudden change causes you to experience a myriad of conflicting and fluctuating emotions. It can also cause you to go into denial. In other words, losing someone that you love can cause you to quickly become overwhelmed to the point that you are disoriented. You may not know what to do, or how to feel. Or, you may feel lost, and “out-of-sorts.” What happens next? Well, if you are at this beginning stage, you will probably need to lean on close friends and family members.
Do not keep your grief bottled up inside (even if you do not exhibit it as others think you should). You don’t have to cry hysterically and sink into deep depression – no, grieve in the way that is right for you. But, do not dismiss or ignore the pain and hurt you are feeling. Acknowledge that you miss your loved one, and that your life has changed significantly. You can recover from your loss, if you acknowledge that life will never be the same again - that you have lost something precious that can never be replaced. With acceptance and support you will eventually be able to smile again – laugh again – live again.
Are you angry? If not, maybe you should be. What? Well, anger is part of the grieving process for most people. So, you may need to throw something, punch a boxing bag, scream, yell, stomp your feet, etc. Will that help you feel better? Maybe. It is worth a try, especially if it helps your recover from your loss. Anger is a normal reaction after losing someone dear to you. During this 2nd stage of grief, you may ask God or a higher power, “Why did this happen?” “Why did so and so have to die?” You may feel strongly that your loved one did not deserve to die.
During this stage, you may also blame yourself. You may rehash the last time you saw or talked to your loved one, and/or you may blame yourself for not being around enough. You may direct your anger at yourself because you do not know who else to blame. You may feel like the death was your fault, but in reality there was nothing you could do to stop it. During this stage, you may also slip into depression. This is especially true, if your loved one suffered a prolonged illness. You may have bargained with God or your higher power to save your loved, causing you to feel betrayed when he or she died.
Moreover, you may feel depressed and angry because you lived, and your loved one did not. This is especially true, if you asked God or your higher power to save him or her. During this period, your anger may be intertwined with confusion and frustration. It is important to acknowledge your anger in a healthy way such as: seeking grief counseling, leaning on friends and family, attending support group meetings, exercising, practicing stress-management techniques, writing in a journal, etc.
During this third stage, you are ready to accept your new reality. In other words, to recover from your loss, you will need to acknowledge and accept that your loved one is gone forever. This is often the hardest and longest step. Why? Well, because “letting go” can be heart wrenching. No one wants to lose someone they love, even if it is a pet. Therefore, accepting that he or she is gone for good can seem impossible to say the least. But, it is possible, and you can and will recover from your loss. It just takes time. Yes, your life is forever changed, however, that does not mean you have to stop living. You will be happy again.
Although life on earth has stopped for your loved one, it hasn’t for you. You are still alive, so wasting your time on earth will only disappoint your loved one. He or she wants you to live life to the fullest – not give up on life. As time goes on your pain and hurt will dissipate. Note: If you unable to heal from your loss, you may need to seek grief counseling. A grief counselor will help your process your feelings, and cope with your loss. He or she will also teach you coping strategies, and give you a platform to express your grief. It is important to understand that you are not alone – there are people out there, who are willing and able to help you – all you have to do is reach out to them.
- Dr. R. Y. Langham
Axelrod, J. (2015). 5 stages of loss and grief. Psych Central. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-5-stages-of-loss-and-grief/000617
Huffington Post. (2010). 18 quotes on strength and wisdom after a loss. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/20/post_517_n_719627.html
WebMD. (2015). Grief and grieving - What happens? Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/balance/tc/grief-and-grieving-what-happens