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How to handle your feelings after a loss

Allow yourself to feel your feelings.
Losing a loved one can be a painful and heartbreaking experience. It's no surprise that many people bury their emotions and ignore their feelings. Studies have shown that when you avoid going through the grieving process, you are more prone to suffer from some form of depression or health issues. Allowing yourself to feel your grief, most often through tears or other forms of expression, can provide genuine relief. This can honestly be very uncomfortable, and just like you want to be very careful with a bruise or wound on your body, you need to be careful with this wound on your emotions. Consider setting a timer for just a few minutes at a time to sit still, breathe, and feel. When the timer rings, get up and move around a bit and go on about your day. Repeat this process, and in time you may find yourself growing more comfortable with the practice.

Tell everyone how you feel - you're allowed to express your grief.
In today's world, we're expected to dust ourselves off and get back to life as soon as possible. But grief is a natural response to loss, and the more significant the loss, the more intense your grief will be. You should be open about needing time to feel better and be patient with yourself to allow the process to naturally unfold. Others around you may need a reminder that you are going through a difficult time, especially as time passes. The more honest you are about your grief, the more you allow other people to be there and respect your needs.

Turn to people who care about you most.
After a loss, you may experience difficult and unexpected emotions, from shock or anger to disbelief, guilt and profound sadness. You may need some time alone to reflect on how to process these emotions, and it's perfectly acceptable to do so for a time. However, you should ultimately allow people back into your life, especially if it will help you move on. A friend, family member or a spiritual leader can all assist you in your grief process. Allow the people who care about you most to simply be there for you.

Don't let anyone tell you how to feel.
However great your loss, it’s personal to you. Don’t feel ashamed about how you feel or believe that it’s somehow only appropriate to grieve in a certain way. Your grief is your own, and no one else can tell you when it’s time to “move on” or “get over it.” Let yourself feel whatever you need to feel without embarrassment or judgment. It’s okay to let go when you’re ready.

Take care of yourself.
We often think of grief as a strictly emotional process, but grief often involves physical symptoms, including fatigue, nausea, lowered immunity, weight loss or weight gain, aches and pains or insomnia. It can be easy to let things like "food" and "sleep" slip your mind when you’re in a state of grief. Make sure you eat, get plenty of rest and do things that are soothing and comforting. Figure out what you need to do to feel healthy, and make sure you do it.

Time doesn't heal all, and that's ok.
Time is necessary, but it is not a cure. Healing happens gradually; it can’t be forced or hurried—and there is no "normal" timetable for grieving. Time might lessen the intensity of that immediate pain of loss, as well as your grief, but your sense of loss and emptiness may never go away. Finding healthy ways to cope with the pain can ease your sadness and help you come to terms with your loss and find new meaning, keeping the memory of your loved one as an important part of you.
Posted: September 13, 2021