Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.
Nobody wants to think about losing a loved one, yet it happens to everyone, and it can be difficult to know what to do when it occurs. There is a lot to think about and do, from notifying the right authorities to dealing with financial issues, trying to wrap your head around the cost of probate, and talking to children about what has happened.
However, when the first shock has worn off and the funeral and all of the practicalities, such as organsing the executor of will, have been completed, you may feel bewildered. Grief can hit you like a tonne of bricks when you have nothing else to occupy your mind and keep you busy. We can not make that emotion go away for you, but we can give you some pointers on how to start going on with your life and dealing with it.
The raw intensity of your loss will most certainly fade with time, but it is vital that you do not rush through the grieving process.
It slaps you square in the face in the early days and weeks. You can practically feel it, with your heart pounding and you being unable to breathe, as well as other symptoms including a loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping. The intensity of those feelings will decrease with time. It will not feel like that at first, but it will. You will notice that you are smiling again, that you are not overwhelmed for longer periods of time, and that your life is returning to some kind of normalcy, albeit a very different type of normalcy.
It is important to recognise, however, that grieving is a deeply personal experience; everyone will experience it in different ways and for varying lengths of time, and there is no right or wrong way to deal with it. Sometimes, months or years later, you are going about your business when something reminds you of the person, and it feels as fresh as it did at the time. That is very natural.
How do you imagine moving on?
One of the first actions you must do in order to go on with your life is to accept what has occurred. Acceptance is one of the most difficult stages of the process, but you can not proceed until you have achieved it. Visiting the funeral home to view the body can help some people accept that the person is no longer alive. Acceptance on an emotional level, on the other hand, might be much more challenging. Again, there is no right or wrong way to do this, but you will eventually accept that the person will not return.
Allow yourself to cry.
Even now, with so much better knowledge of emotions and mental health, there is still a stigma linked to crying and expressing emotions, particularly among men. However, it is vital to recognise your feelings and allow yourself to express them, even if it means crying. Bottled-up feelings will not help you move forward and may even stymie your grieving process.
Plan a funeral that they would have enjoyed.
Funeral planning may be both physically and emotionally demanding. Religion, money, family politics may may be restrictive, but if at all possible, do so. Why not have people dress up in bright apparel if they were a larger-than-life, joyful persona, or if they were a soccer fan, have them wear their favourite team’s jersey? There is no necessity that you dress entirely in black. You can also express yourself through the music you listen to.
Maintain their legacy
Why not carry on your loved one’s good work if they did something special, such as humanitarian work or fought for a specific cause? To respect them, if they believed in something, such as education, go acquire a better education and learn something new. Plan a trip to a different location if they enjoyed travelling. There is no greater way to honour a loved one than to live out some of their dreams or experiences.
Remember the happiness they brought into your life.
Consider how that person touched your life. This is one of the most effective ways to remember someone and go past the initial stages of grief. Perhaps they instilled in you a desire to learn or travel? Maybe they were the one who taught you to drive or sketch. Concentrating on the positive things of life can have a tremendous impact.
Death and the loss of a loved one will always be a part of your life, and you may never be the same again. While the pain will always be present, it will become less strong with time. It is possible to learn to grieve without avoiding it and with acceptance, which is the healthiest way to deal with death.