Healing from Loss of a Loved One -by Jamie Edwards, LCSW

The loss of a loved one can be one of the most difficult experiences in anyone’s life.  Loss provokes the natural process of grief, however we may be inclined to speed this process along to avoid difficult feelings such as sadness, anger, and loneliness.  Our modern culture also supports this by expecting us to have funeral plans arranged quickly and go back to work after the approved three bereavement days.  Well-intentioned people talk about “getting over” and “moving on” from the loss, when in reality we will never forget that loved one.  There is no normal way to grieve, however it is important to let this process progress naturally.

Many know of the 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  However, what is also important to note is that these stages do not always go in order, and sometimes we can skip or go back to a stage.  We can be angry for a time, then accepting, then back in denial.  In Joan Didion’s book The Year of Magical Thinking, she describes denial as predictable, understanding that it takes time for our brains to process change:  “there was a level on which I believed that what had happened remained reversible.”

There are many ways to cope and ultimately heal from loss.  Different ways will work for different people.

  1. Seek support of friends and family. Let out your feelings and emotions, or just let someone be near you.
  1. Take care of yourself by eating and sleeping regularly. This should get easier over time.
  1. Find a way to honor your loved one. Plant a tree, create a scrapbook, or light a candle.
  1. Enjoy a current hobby or learn a new one. Your strong feelings can be transformed into the energy to take on this hobby.
  1. Form new relationships. Join an activity group or volunteer.
  1. Seek counseling/therapy, specifically if you are finding that these suggestions are not helping enough. The therapists at Gurnee Counseling Center are skilled in working with people who have experienced loss.
  1. Join a grief support group or workshop. Gurnee Counseling Center will be providing a 4-week Grief Yoga Workshop Series starting Monday, October 27th from 5 – 7 pm.   This involves very gentle yoga, and no experience is necessary.  To learn more or to register, call 847-336-5621 x0.