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5 Ways to Cope When a Loved One Dies

Grief happens to us all. Time is a good healer, but it can help to acknowledge grief and take steps to heal. Here are 5 ideas that might help you cope when someone you love has died:

  1. Join in rituals. Memorial services, funerals, and other traditions help people get through the first few days and honor the person who died. Just being in the presence of other people who knew your loved one can be comforting.
  2. Let your emotions be expressed and released. Don't stop yourself from having a good cry if you feel one coming on. Don't worry if listening to particular songs or doing certain things is painful because it brings back memories of the person that you lost. It's natural to feel this way. After a while, it becomes less painful. Know that you can (and will) feel better over time.
  3. Talk about it when you can. Some people find it helpful to tell the story of their loss or talk about their feelings. But sometimes a person doesn't feel like talking about a loss, and that's OK, too. No one should feel pressured to talk.

    Even if you don't feel like talking, find ways to express your emotions and thoughts. Start writing in a journal about the memories you have of the person you lost and how you're feeling since the loss. Or write a song, poem, or tribute about your loved one. You can do this privately or share it with others.
  4. Preserve memories. Create a memorial or tribute to the person who died by planting a tree or garden, or honor the person in a fitting way, like taking part in a charity run or walk.

    Make a memory box or folder that has reminders of the person who has died. Include mementos, photos, quotes, or whatever you choose. If you want, write a letter to the person. In it, you might want to include your feelings, things you want to say, or perhaps thank your loved one for being a part of your life.
  5. Join a support group. If you think you may be interested in going to a grief support group, ask a parent, school counselor, or religious leader how to find one. You don't have to be alone with your feelings or your pain.

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: November 2013