When a loved one dies, especially if that death seems too early, it can alter your worldview in painful ways. For a time, it may seem that nothing will ever be good or right again.
Everyone mourns in her own way; there is no single process for mourning and healing that works universally. With time, things generally do get better. You will be able to laugh and have fun. Life will once again seem to have a purpose. A return to normalcy — even though you still remember painfully the loss of your loved one — can come in as little as a year.
If you are having trouble healing and can’t seem to get out of the doldrums created by your loved one’s death, consider these ideas to help you overcome your sorrow.
Remember that your loved one didn’t die because of you
Some who struggle with sadness after the passing of a loved one do so because they inappropriately put themselves at the center of the event. You are not the cause of the death. Your loved one’s passing is not a reflection on you in any way. You will be fine.
Remember that the pain won’t last forever
At first, it may seem like nothing can possibly remove the pain you feel. It simply isn’t true. Even though your loved one is gone, you can heal. While you may always feel the absence, you won’t always feel the pain. Allow yourself to heal by telling yourself you can.
Remember that the rest of your life is still intact
When a loved one dies, you may feel initially like your entire life is ruined, that you can’t return to work, that your relationships with others are inalterably damaged by the tragedy and that nothing makes sense. Remind yourself that, in fact, you have many people around you who love you. You can return to work. You can carry on. You are not dead. You are needed.
Look for opportunities to do things that can take your mind off of the tragedy. You show no disrespect to your loved one by being happy; your loved one would want you to be happy. Go out with your friends, watch a movie, read a book, go to work, and return to your normal routine.
Schedule time to grieve
If you can’t stop constantly grieving, try scheduling time a few days out to grieve. It will give you permission to let it go for a while.
Many people find great comfort in faith. Such people believe deeply in an afterlife where people are with their loved ones and are happy there. Certainly, if you can find faith to believe in such a place, where your deceased loved one is happy, it will be easier for you to give yourself permission to be happy.
Several of these ideas come from Martin Seligman’s book, Learned Optimism, which may be a helpful read if you are concerned that your sorrow is leading to depression.
Everyone will experience the loss of a loved one; most will go through it several times. But even grief can be helped by employing strategies like those listed here. Taking control of your grieving process can help you overcome the pain associated with your loss.
Devin Thorpe, husband, father, author of Your Mark On The World and a popular guest speaker, is a Forbes Contributor. Building on a twenty-five year career in finance and entrepreneurship that included $500 million in completed transactions, he now champions social good full time, seeking to help others succeed in their efforts to make the world a better place.