How to Cope with Loss in your Family
Everyone faces loss in their lives at some point, and each person deals with the loss in their own way. The emotional suffering that many people experience when they have lost a family member, or even a beloved pet, is often more than some people can handle – for some it’s such intense grief that they fail to be able to get back to a normal life for a long period of time. So let’s take a look at some facts about grieving along with some myths and some ways to handle grief so that it’s not so devastating.
Facts and Myths
Ignore the pain of grief: Some theories state that the pain of loss goes away sooner if the person just ignores the grief and gets on with their lives. Unfortunately, failing to deal with the grief does little more than prolongs the pain that eventually surfaces and can be devastating in the long run. Most people find that dealing with the grief as soon as possible allows the healing to begin.
Be strong and don’t be emotional: One stream of thought is that it’s extremely essential to be strong and not appear weak during the time of loss; however, feeling lonely, sad, or even frightened is a normal reaction to a significant loss. Crying is not a form of weakness; in fact, crying is a great release and is helpful in the healing process – as long as the crying and feeling of loss stops in a normal period of time. Showing true emotions and feelings is healing.
Timeframe for grief: In some cultures it’s said that the remaining person has not fully grieved unless they have grieved for a full year. There’s no wrong or right period of time for grieving because it’s different for every person depending on the significance of the loved one who was lost. Grieving for an appropriate period of time is healthy and healing; prolonged grieving is unhealthy.
Many people find that they go through various stages of grieving when a beloved person or pet has died. Some of these stages have prolonged timeframes, and for some people these stages last perhaps only a few hours. The five stages of grief that have been identified include:
- Denial – Refusal to believe that the person is dead (particularly those lost in a tragic accident) can be devastating to those who remain, and even if the person has been suffering for years this can still be a stage that the survivors experience.
- Anger – Many people need to find someone, or something, to blame for their feeling of sadness or devastation, and it can take a long time for them to work through this phase.
- Bargaining – Some people try to bargain with God or whatever higher power they believe in by saying “if you spare them, I’ll change this action or behavior”. For many people this is a very short-lived stage.
- Depression – One of the most devastating stages is that of depression, and for some people it takes a good bit of counseling to get through this stage and return to a healthy state of mind again.
- Acceptance – The final stage of grief is accepting that the loved one has gone and will never return, and finding peace for the absence of the person.
Coping with Loss
There are several recommendations that people find helpful when dealing with the loss of a loved one:
- Counseling – Turn to friends, family, or professional counselors to draw comfort and closure.
- Faith – Many people find that their faith provides a great deal of comfort during this time.
- Take care of yourself – Don’t forget to eat right, get rest, and let others know that you need support during this time.
There are many ways to deal with loss of a beloved friend or pet, and even though they are gone, remember life is worth living and they would want everyone to go on with their lives.