Coping with Death

All of us go through all sorts of emotions when coping with a death. We may be scared or sad, shocked or confused, cheated or guilty. Some of us might feel angry, exhausted, or even relieved. Some feel emptiness. These are normal coping mechanisms to a death. It becomes unhealthy, however, if the stronger or deeper than usual emotions mix together and consume you.

What is grief?

Grief is the emotional, spiritual, and physical reactions to a loss or death. You might be grieving if you feel such strong emotions as sadness or anger or experience physical reactions like sleeplessness or waves of nausea. Some people exhibit grief when they question their beliefs while others feel more strongly about their faith.

Coping with grief

People handle grief differently. Some comfort themselves with pleasant memories. Some preoccupy themselves with work or other activities to divert their attention from the loss. Others become very depressed and start withdrawing themselves from their peers. There are also those who avoid going to places or doing certain things that remind them of the loss.

While many grieving people seek help from others (family, relatives, friends, support groups, and healthcare professionals), other engage in self-destructive activities like doing drugs, drinking alcohol, or cutting themselves to escape from the reality. Engaging in such dangerous activities may seem to lessen the pain. But it does not really with the pain, it only masks the pain.

Caring for yourself

The death of someone you love can be very stressful. You can cope with grief if you take good care of yourself in small but important ways. The first thing to remember is that it is normal to grieve and that you can heal over time.

Participating in rituals such as memorial services and funerals will help lessen the pain. You need to be with others and seek help from your family, friends, or your therapist. A support group will help you deal with your feelings or pain.

Talk about the loss when you can. It will help you unburden yourself of grief. Even if you do not want to talk, you should find ways to express or release your emotions. Have a good cry if you feel you are about to.

You may not feel hungry or may want to skip meals, but your body needs nutritious foods. Think of your health. Do some exercise to lift your mood. You may also want to create a personal tribute to the person who passed away. Most importantly, you have to let go. It may be very difficult to do, but you have to move on.