Coping with loss

Losing a loved one can leave you feeling lost and confused. Often, there are also unanswered questions, and depending on the nature of the loss, some questions will never be answered. People can get stuck asking ‘why’ questions, and/or having an endless stream of ‘what ifs’. Although it is completely normal to want to make sense of the situation, getting stuck asking certain questions prolongs pain and suffering.

Below are some points that can help you navigate through this difficult time.

Everyone grieves differently, and there is no right way to do it

  • Some people may struggle to put words to what they are feeling;
  • Some people may feel intense emotions and responses, and feel like they are losing control;
  • Some people may feel and/or express very little;
  • Some may have intense emotions in bursts;
  • Some people may do or say things that are hurtful to push others away.

Common emotions and reactions to grief are:

  • Sadness, emptiness, loneliness, guilt or regret
  • Intense shock, numbness and disbelief
  • Re-living the details of the death
  • Not being able to sleep and/or having nightmares
  • Feeling betrayed or rejected
  • Anger and/or blaming others for the loss
  • Avoiding people or places that remind you of the person
  • Keeping busy to avoid thinking about the loss
  • Physical reactions like sore muscles, headaches and nausea

Give yourself (and others) time to grieve

Be kind to yourself. You have experienced a major loss, and it will take time to find a way forward. You will have good days, and bad days. There will be times where intense emotions and pain will come on suddenly, and may be triggered by music, places, photos or a memory.

Be mindful of your relationships and friendships. They can become strained as everyone deals with their pain differently. There can be lots of room for misunderstanding, so as much as possible, try to be patient and tolerant of everyone’s way of grieving.

Accept help from others

Even if you are used to doing everything, your capacity to manage the demands of the daily life will be limited. In addition, some people feel more comfortable offering practical support, as they may not know what to say, or might worry about saying the wrong thing. Wherever possible, accept the help when it is offered.

Stay connected

Grief can make you feel alone, like no one understands. Staying connected with the people who are important to you is crucial. Remember, you can have moments of fun, it doesn’t mean that you are forgetting the person who passed away!

If you are spending time supporting others, make sure you make time for yourself too

Helping others can be really rewarding, but it can also be used as a way of avoiding painful feelings. Grief needs to be felt to be processed. Make sure you make time for you!

Take care of your health

When we are feeling low it’s normal for sleep, appetite, exercise, etc., to go out of the window. It is essential to eat well, get some gentle exercise, get regular sleep and minimise your use of alcohol during this difficult time.

Keep a notebook handy

Foggy mind and difficulty concentrating are completely normal. Writing important and helpful information down can be a good way of tracking the things that need to be done. Writing can also be a good way of processing emotions.

Help is available

When someone you know passes away, it might bring up thoughts and feelings of death in yourself. These thoughts might pass quickly, or you might have ongoing thoughts about wanting to be with the person who has died.

If you are navigating a season of loss, RAW is available to talk with on 1800 729 827.

Ready to take the next step?