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Coping With the Loss of a Loved One

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  • Written By: Ellie Schwartzberg
Coping With the Loss of a Loved One

Coping with the loss of a loved one can be one of the toughest challenges many of us will face. And when one loses a spouse or a significant other, this grief can be compounded. Although loss is a natural part of life, one may still feel overwhelmed and struggle to deal with these new circumstances. For most, the sadness will diminish over time, but taking the time to grieve is an essential part of the process.

We are naturally resilient, and most of us can cope with a loss and can, over time, move on with our lives. But everyone reacts differently to death. Research shows that most people recover from loss on their own with time, especially if they have a strong support system. It is important to remember that there is no "normal" amount of time for someone to grieve.

For many years, licensed counselors and other mental health professionals believed that processing grief was a predicable process for people. That once you were through the grieving process, you had reached closure and could move on. Experts now understand that each person processes grief differently and coping with grief does not follow a particular pattern.

Research shows that most people recover from loss on their own with time, especially if they have a strong support system.

As a licensed professional counselor, I work with individuals experiencing loss. What follows are some strategies that I have found helpful when coping with the loss of a loved one:

• Talk about the death of your loved one with friends and other members of the family. Let others know it is OK to talk to you about it.
• Accept your feelings. People will experience all kinds of emotions after the death of a loved one and all are normal.
• Take care of yourself. Eat well, exercise and get plenty of rest.
• Celebrate the lives of your loved ones.

Counseling professionals including clergy, can understand the importance of how culture and religion can impact how you handle a loss. These professionals will be sensitive to your traditions and will work with you to establish a plan that best fits your personal needs.

Grief has many possible faces and can express itself in many different ways. Remember, you are your own person with your own life experiences and relationship with the one who died. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You may benefit from talking with a licensed professional counselor who can help you cope, understand and accept your feelings and help you navigate through the grief process.

Ellie Schwartzberg is vice president of Older Adult and Jewish Community Services at Jewish Family and Children’s Service.

This article was originally published in White Tanks View magazine.