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Navigating Life After Loss

Do you feel completely lost about how to navigate through life after losing someone you love? This is an extremely common feeling when someone is faced with grief and loss. Most people wonder, “How long will I feel like this?” and “What does this journey through grief look like?” There is unfortunately no specific answer to these questions because grief after loss is complex and looks different for everyone. One thing that remains the same for everyone is the inability to ignore and avoid grief. You may feel completely broken and alone after your loss, but if you let yourself truly feel your feelings, process your loss, and develop appropriate coping skills, the heaviness weighing down your heart will lessen and you will become a more resilient and stronger you.

What to Expect After Loss

After losing someone you love, you may feel completely numb or in shock. It feels like you’re in a horrible dream that you are hoping you’ll wake up from soon. Some days you may feel like you have to remind yourself they’re actually gone over and over. It doesn’t seem real. The tears may come uncontrollably or they may not come at all because of the shock. Whichever you experience try not to judge yourself. Also, know that feeling sad or mad is completely normal after loss. It’s also normal to feel guilt and regret. We wonder, “What if?” or “Would the outcome be different if I did something differently?” You are not alone if you are feeling this way. It is important to process these feelings with someone, so you can work to challenge, reframe, and refocus these thoughts and feelings when they pop into your head.

Where to Go From Here

Openly talking about your loss can be very beneficial to your healing. Tell others about your favorite memories or stories involving your loved one. Communicate with your friends that talking about the person you lost is not a bad thing and it can help you through your grief. Many will avoid bringing up your loss and talking about them in fear of upsetting you when it’s actually one of the biggest tools to help you heal. Additionally, talk to the person you lost. You can do this through writing letters, making a memory box, or talk to a picture of them. Let them know how you’re feeling and update them on your life. Allow yourself to talk to them or about them so you can feel closer to them even with them not being here anymore.

It is also important as a parent to model for your children that having feelings is okay and openly talking about those feelings about the one they lost is allowed. Many children feel they should keep their grief to themselves because they don’t want to make their parent sadder. Remember that children go through grief very differently than adults. Their grief can be on and off for a long period of time. Be aware of them having difficulties coping with grief.

Lastly, many assume grief comes in stages and that each stage must be conquered. These stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It is important to know that everyone goes through these stages differently. Some people may go through all of them as others may only experience one. You can also experience these stages in any order. Grief does not have a roadmap to healing. This can be uncomfortable because a simple map to not feeling this pain anymore would be ideal. Just remember that your journey through grief is your own journey and you should not judge yourself or compare yourself to anyone else’s grief process. Losing someone you love is not easy but allow yourself to go through the process of grief so you can return to a fulfilling life that your loved one would be very proud to see you living.

About The Author

Krista Roehlig, RMHCI is a grief specialist and Gottman Method Couples Counselor at Living Well Therapy and Coaching. Find more information about Grief Counseling at Living Well Therapy and Coaching here.

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