Help after losing a loved one
Your loved one has died and your heart is broken. You struggle to put one foot in front of the other, to perform simple functions at home and work, to find some meaning in their death. But most of all, you struggle to find a way to cope, to mourn, to grieve. We don’t talk about death very often and don’t know how to support our friends and loved ones who are dealing with death, leaving them feeling alone and many times, abandoned.
As you begin to put back the pieces of your life, you will find some don’t fit anymore and surprisingly, you will find new pieces that comfort you. Simply put, grief is a natural reaction to loss. It hurts, it is debilitating and painful. If you stay so busy or numb with drugs, food or alcohol, you will delay the natural grieving process, which will only prolong your suffering.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology suggests:
- Allow yourself to experience the pain of loss. As much as it hurts, it is natural and normal to grieve.
- Talk with others. Talking about your loss and sadness with others may help you process and release your feelings.
- Find creative outlets. Consider expressing your feelings through creative activities you enjoy such as music or art.
- Engage in physical activity such as walking, running, or riding a bicycle – to help you cope with your feelings.
- Give yourself a break from grieving. It is important to take breaks from grieving with pleasant activities and interactions with supportive family members and friends.
- Maintain a routine. Keeping a basic routine of daily activities helps you structure your time and keeps you connected to familiar people and places.
- Forgive yourself for the things you regret doing or saying to your loved one.
- Be patient. Allow your grief to unfold at a pace that is natural for you.
- Take care of yourself. It is important to attend to your physical needs during the period after loss.
- Join a support group. Support groups offer you the chance to talk with others who have similar experiences.
From the Book Awakening From Grief – John E. Welshons suggestions:
- Let your tears feed your heart
- Tell your story
- Remember the value of ceremony
- Open to the possibility that the universe is not perfect
- Become aware that no relationship is ever lost
- Create a sacred space of remembrance, start a garden or create a space with your loved ones pictures, candles, favorite poem
- Write a letter to the loved one who has died
- Keep a journal
- Find safe and appropriate outlets for your anger
- Find forgiveness
- Incorporate meditation, contemplation and prayer into your daily life
- Be more mindful of your own physical health
- Be creative
- Consider getting a pet
- Relax and take your time
Our helpline is free and staffed by certified patient and family support navigators, who have walked in your shoes and are ready to help. Our team of experts includes colorectal cancer survivors and caregivers.