Recently I was seeing an episode of ‘Call the Midwife’ and one of the characters said ‘you just have to keep living until you are alive again’. She was referring to her attitude after losing two members of her family: “keep living until you are alive again’. I was very stuck by this quote because it embodies the grieving process we go through after the loss of a loved one.
- Everyone deals with death differently: Kubler- Ross in her book ‘On death and dying’ explains that there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. However, recent research indicates that grief is not linear or predictable. We might think we have accepted our loss until we are flooded by feelings of sadness when we hear a song or smell that reminds us of the person we lost. Moreover, everyone’s process of bereavement is different. This is a very personal journey.
- Open up and talk about it when you are ready: Those around you might expect you to feel better and ‘get on with it’ after a couple of months. However, the grieving process can take time. Talking to a good friend or a professional counsellor can help. It is ok to feel sad, disorientated and alone. However, ask for help when you feel ready – the grieving process cannot be forced.
- Give yourself time to heal: There is no hard fast rules that dictate how long you need to heal after the death of a loved one. Moreover, we need to establish a ‘new normality’. Life without the person we love will be different. The pain will never go away but it gets better as times passes.
- Take care of your health: Eat well, do exercise, try and sleep at least 6 hours a day. Taking care of our physical health can help us move forward and feel better eventually.
- Celebrate the life of your loved one: Remember the memories you made and the experienced you shared. Frame photos, plant a tree, donate to your loved one favorite charity. Anything that allows you to honor the memory of the one who passed on and your life together.
- Do what you love doing: You might not want to get out of bed in the morning especially during the first days after your loss. However, getting up in the morning, washing and putting on clean clothes and going to work can help us go through the first difficult days and months. Getting into our usual routine might help us ‘Keep living until we feel alive again’.
Anna Catania is a counsellor with Willingness. She has had a special interest in working with clients facing intimacy and sexual difficulties and runs a service for families going through cancer and chronic illness. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org