Overcoming bereavement is a very difficult and personal process. Whether your loss was sudden and unexpected, or the result of a long illness, there is no ‘normal’ way to experience grief and no time limit to get through it. Follow my tips to take the next step on your healing journey.
Let it flow
Grief is a gradual process. You may have days when you feel angry, sad, frustrated, days when you feel better, days when you feel guilty for laughing with friends or appreciating the world around you. You may experience a combination of emotions that feel utterly overwhelming; or even feel as if you are going crazy. This can be upsetting and confusing, but rest assured that it is all entirely natural. Take one day at a time and acknowledge the feelings that you experience, rather than trying to block them out.
Look after you
Whilst it can be tempting to use alcohol or narcotics to numb the pain that you are experiencing, all this does is mask your grief; it doesn’t help you to get through it. Take care of your body with nutritious food, drink water and get plenty of fresh air and sleep. Keep to a routine if you can, going to bed and getting up at the same time each day, and eating regular meals.
Get back to nature
It is scientifically proven that being close to nature affects our bodies and minds in a positive, healing way, so get outdoors as much as you can. Nurturing activities, such as gardening or working with animals are enormously helpful in the healing process as being kind to others has an equal emotional benefit to receiving kindness. You may find it helpful to plant a tree or wild flower seeds in memory of your loved one.
Whilst being active can be beneficial, being outdoors doesn’t have to be physically challenging; sitting and watching the ocean or taking a gentle stroll through woodland are wonderfully therapeutic.
Say what needs to be said
One of the most challenging aspects of bereavement is the things that are left unsaid. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to make peace with my mother before she died. We had a difficult relationship when I was growing up but I understand why this happened now. I’m so grateful that I had the chance to heal our relationship before she passed away in 2007.
Perhaps you feel that the air needed to be cleared, or you simply wanted to let someone know that you loved them. You may find it helpful to write them a letter or to speak to them as if they were still with you. Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. You may find it helpful to light a candle, or to hold a possession that reminds you of them. Say aloud the things that you need to say, or write it down in a journal or even on writing paper. You may find that you express anger, frustration, sadness, or any number of other emotions, and this is absolutely fine. Just make sure that you end with words of love, kindness and compassion.
Create a memory box, filled with reminders of your relationship. This can take any form, from ticket stubs and photos to written memories on slips of paper. This is an excellent project for children as well as adults that are dealing with bereavement. Open the box and pick out a memory to look at whenever you feel the need, and let it resonate in your mind and heart.
You may also find it helpful to raise some money for a charity that was important to your loved one, or do some volunteer work in a field that interested them. This provides a good focus for your mind, that both honours your loved one’s life and principles, whilst helping others too.
One of the things that my mother struggled with, (which certainly contributed to our challenging relationship) was the loss of her own mother when she was just five years old. Her home life was Victorian-esque and she was not allowed to talk about or properly grieve for, her mum. Communication is one of the most important tools that we have as human beings, and talking about our feelings is a vital part of overcoming bereavement. Talk to friends and family as much as you can. If this is difficult, look into finding a support group, either face to face or online, and a good therapist to help you through.
This may not always seem possible when you are dealing with bereavement, but rest assured that whilst you will always miss your loved one, there will come a time when you are ready to celebrate their life. Make a point of telling the people around you that you love and value them as often as possible, and take your time with your journey. These steps may be small, but they will help you along the road to overcome bereavement. Remember with gratitude the time that you spent together, and this will help you achieve a sense of peace. As long as we remember and honour our lost loved ones, they will never truly leave us, but live on in our hearts and memories.
All the best,