by Kalpana Murthy, LPC
Coping With Loss of A Loved One
For many people, death is an uncomfortable topic and often people don’t know what to say to someone who has lost a person or pet. Holidays can stir up a range of emotions and memories associated with the deceased even if the loss happened many years ago. Here are five suggestions to help you or someone you know cope with the loss of a loved one.
1. Talk About It
Let people know that it helps you to talk about it and that it’s okay for them to ask you about it. Talk about the facts of how the person died, memories of the person and all your emotions associated with the person – happiness, anger, grief. If you don’t like talking about it, express your feelings, thoughts and memories through artwork, music or writing.
2. Remember The Person’s Entire Life Story, Not Just The End
When you think about the person that is gone, don’t limit your memories to just the last moments or last difficult period of their life. Their life story is not just how they died. Remember all their qualities, interests, activities and stories of their entire life.
3. Keep Some Traditions and Create New Ones
Celebrate holidays, birthdays and other special occasions and continue to do the activities you enjoyed doing with the person. If you’d like, you can also create new traditions as a way of remembering the loved one.
4. Move In and Out of Grief
Choose when and how you relate to your grief. Alternate periods where you connect with your grief with periods where you choose to not be connected with it. Take a break from the pain. Exercise, cook healthy meals, watch movies or shows that make you laugh, take a class, plan a vacation, get lost in a novel or hobby.
5. Engage The Support of Others
Grief is an ongoing process and too often people are told by well meaning family and friends that they need to get over it or that talking about it means that they are not moving forward with their life. Talking with people who understand grief and loss is helpful and important not just within the first year of the loss but even years later. Join a grief support group in your local community or one of the many online grief support communities. Individual counseling sessions with a therapist who specializes in grief and traumatic events is recommended if upsetting images of the person’s final hours haunt you, if you are unable to connect to positive memories of the person, if you are feeling guilt around the loss, or if your sleep and overall health are declining.
Brief Therapy for Traumatic Grief
As a therapist specializing in helping adults heal from traumatic events, I have experience helping individuals reduce the pain and eliminate the symptoms associated with the sudden death of a child, spouse, parent, close friend or pet. See the column on the right to read about how one of my clients described how our brief therapy with EMDR helped her resolve traumatic grief.
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is an integrative, whole brain approach to psychotherapy that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma symptoms, including: anxiety, depression, fears, diminished self-esteem, sleep problems, recurring bad dreams, upsetting images, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
EMDR works much faster than coaching or traditional talk therapy, because it is based on the science of how the brain stores and processes information (images, sounds, smells, physical sensations, emotions and thoughts) related to upsetting or traumatic events. It is a physiologically based therapy that helps a person experience a disturbing experience in a new and less distressing way.
The speed of your mind is faster than the speed of your mouth. That’s why simply talking about a problem doesn’t always resolve it. EMDR engages both hemispheres of your brain while you are fully awake and focused on key elements of the memory. EMDR activates the brain’s natural process for resolving and letting go of memories that contribute to present day problems. EMDR has been in use for over 20 years worldwide and it has helped millions of people rapidly recover from the effects of trauma.
To Learn More about EMDR, Click Here