Happiness after loss – ideas to cope with grief and death

Sunlight behind trees in the snowAs the world mourns the deaths of two great people – Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett – what are some ways that can help us cope with the grief?

I’ve been wanting to write an article about grieving and loss for a while, and their deaths prompted me to take action and express my thoughts.

If we aren’t grieving for Farrah and Michael in particular, their deaths might trigger memories of current or past losses in our own lives.

Loss can come in many forms – a spouse, partner, friend, relative, colleague, role model, pet, job, house and more.

Whatever the loss, how we deal with it is vital for our health and well-being.

Here are my key ways to help us cope with loss.

Accept that grieving is normal
Allow ourselves time to grieve
Surround ourselves with good family and friends
Do our best to live life to the full despite the loss
Keep busy
Make time for things we enjoy
Have faith
Have constructive beliefs
Get help if needed

Accept that grieving is normal

It’s normal to cry, get angry and have emotional outbursts more so than usual while we’re grieving. Emotions usually settle down in time, although they might be triggered in future if particular things remind us of the loss.

Allow ourselves time to grieve

How long the grieving process lasts depends on a number of things. Take the loss of a loved one. How close we were to them, the types of memories we shared and how the person died are some factors that can affect how long we mourn.

Surround ourselves with good family and friends

Spending a lot of time alone while you’re grieving can make the feelings of loss worse. Keep in regular contact with people you love and trust.

Do our best to live life to the full despite the loss

I know a lady who lost her father when she was quite young. She told me that although she misses her father and feels the loss, he would want her to be happy. After his death she made a conscious decision to do her best to live a happy and fulfilling life despite the tragedy. The late Australian conservationist Steve Irwin said a similar thing when discussing the passing of his mother during an interview before his death.

Keep busy

As bad as the pain may be, do your best to do something productive and worthwhile, and have a normal routine, while you grieve. Be kind and patient with yourself if you aren’t as productive or accurate as you usually are – it’s normal.

Make time for things we enjoy

When we lose something or someone we love we might not put enough time aside to enjoy ourselves. To help us heal emotionally, it’s important to still do things that boost our spirits.

Walk, play sport or computer games. Listen to uplifting songs that help heal the pain. Visit friends and family. Watch comedies – whatever it is that you like.

Have faith

People who have faith can turn to it to help them through a loss. Believing that God or “The Universe”, for example, has a “grand plan” for each of us, and loves us, can help us mourn.

Have constructive beliefs

If you believe life will never be as good after the loss, this is likely to come true for you. If you believe that you can, in time, find happiness after the loss, you are more likely to seek-out joy in life and be happy again.

Thoughts, beliefs and philosophies are creative, so choose these wisely to be as happy, healthy and successful as you can.

Get help if needed

Friends, family, counselors, support groups, forums, books on grieving and articles about grief on the internet can be good sources of help, support and advice during the grieving process. You are never alone.

If you’re losing or gaining too much weight, having digestive problems, severe mood swings or any other emotional or physical problems caused by grieving, seek help before your health is at risk.

written by Nyomi Graef

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16 Responses to “Happiness after loss – ideas to cope with grief and death”

  1. Starting a site similar to this one led me to get into some research and I found your post to be very useful. My site is centered around the idea curing cancer by halting the angiogenic process. I wish you good luck with your research in the future and I’ll definitely keep an eye on you.

  2. eiffel_dorm says:

    I have just lost a dear friend two weeks ago and I miss her so much. But you’re right, we have to bear in mind that they want us to be happy. So we need to live life to the fullest. :) Enjoy life, there’s plenty of time to be dead.

  3. Nyomi says:

    I am so sorry to hear the very sad news. I have also felt grief and loss at times throughout my life and these were, by far, the saddest times I’ve ever had. In time the cloud of sadness passed by and the sun came out again. I hope your cloud passes and the sun shines again for you soon.

    Thank you for visiting my website and taking the time to comment. I hope my blog posts help you feel better.

    All the best

    Best wishes,
    Nyomi

  4. Anjali Verma says:

    your blog is very helpful for me as I lost my husband in an accident. I am thankful to you for guiding how to live after death.your points have been very supportive. He always wanted me to be happy and smiling.

  5. Miriam says:

    I am still early in the grieving stages of losing my beautiful partner to brain cancer. The emptiness and lost feeling is too painful sometimes. I remember hearing Patrick Swayze’s wife comment once that she felt lucky for the few moments that would come when she was not actually thinking about him. The comments below are from an article from his wife speaking on a Grief, Healing and Resilience panel at the Maria Shriver’s Women’s Conference in California……

    ‘I thought during the 22 months of my husband’s illness that it gave me all this time to get used to the idea of losing him,’ she said.
    ‘And I found for myself, when I actually got to that point, I said, “N-n-n-n-n-No.” It wasn’t the same at all. The actual loss – it’s like an animal all of its own…

    ‘It made all the sadness and grief previous to that look like an intellectual concept. This sadness was on a cellular level.’

    The actress said after losing Swayze, she began to understand much more about how loss can affect a person

    In an emotional speech, she revealed that she had hoped having months to absorb his illness would make his death easier to bear.
    But she explained that when the time came, she was so overcome that the pain dwarfed everything that had gone before while he was desperately clinging to life

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1223465/Patrick-Swayzes-widow-Lisa-Niemi-opens-grief-time-death.html#ixzz1Xrz3DuWF

    Her main advice was to reach out to people, which is what I have done. Im so desperately sad still. Im still traumatised as like her I had months and months of watching the man I love fade before my eyes, the deterioration and how heartbreaking it is, and now I am experiencing flash backs and post traumatic issues.
    The worst part is when people try to console you that have no idea and say things like…. Well at least now he is at peace and safe and not suffering or in pain any more and in a happier place. He was never in pain, nor suffering.. He loved life, was very young, did not want to die and had everything to live for. I keep screaming out.. He should be HERE!!!With some brain tumours you dont often get any pain at all. There is nothing in some circumstances for people to say that is actually consoling. The only thing that helps for me is to have close friends or family around to share the burden of the pain and loss with you sometimes. For them not to say anything at all, but to simply share your grief and let you cry and say how upset and angry you are that this tragedy has happened. As self induldgent as it feels, I realise its the only way I can release my pain without feeling like I am going insane.

  6. Miriam says:

    from an article I found. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/MindMoodNews/patrick-swayzes-wife-coping-grief-texted-actor-death/story?id=11595649

    Grief has no timeline, according to psychological experts, and it varies according to each individual. According to Weide, about 15 percent of those with a loss experience “traumatic grief,” unable to move forward.

    The sense of loss is “permanent,” and the person who feels it is forever changed, she said, but most are eventually able to move on from the acute phase and manage the pain.

    She likens “traumatic grief” to post-traumatic stress syndrome and major depression and advocates for treating it as such.

    Kind words and comforting phrases are not enough. Many who are experiencing traumatic grief need to treat “dimensions of pain and trauma we are unable to gauge unless we have been there ourselves, ” said Weide.
    “We do not control grief, it controls us,” she said. “You cannot push a person to focus on the future or stop tweeting or throw away the shoes. But we eventually learn to live with it. The grief changes over time. We develop coping skills to fully function again, but it’s different from before.”

    Dr. Katherine Shear, professor of psychiatry in social work at Columbia University, has been a pioneer in studies and treatment of grief.

    In 2005, she published the first randomized controlled treatment study for complicated grief, grief that is unresolved and disabling.

    “Grief is permanent,” she said, but it changes over time.

    Grief associated with the loss of a spouse can be “heightened” because of the “every-day-life-ness” and caregiving nature of the relationship.

    For most, acute grief is a “very dramatic” experience with unique thoughts, feelings and behaviors, according to Shear.

    Intense yearning for the lost spouse is intermixed with sadness. Sometimes it can alternate, even a few weeks after the death, with postive feelings.

    “It’s a very emotional state that is generally unfamiliar to people,” she said. ‘One of the typical things that happens is almost a confusion about whether the person is there or not. The idea that they are sitting in the room or a strong expectation that the doorbell will ring and the person will come. Or they will wake up from a dream and he will be there.”

    ……. This is all the way I am feeling.

  7. Nyomi says:

    Hello Miriam,

    My deepest condolecences on the loss of your partner. If I lost someone under very similar circumstances as you, who I love as much as you loved your partner, I would also be devastated and deeply upset.

    I too lost a lot of what I love not long ago. It was the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life. I cried for many months, had nightmares, flashbacks and more. With lots of professional help of different varieties, and help from friends and family, I am moving on. The pain and grief have gone. I feel that I have a new life now, and a new start.

    I believe you can, in time, move through the grief and find happiness. I’m sure your partner would not want you to be sad for the remainder of your life; he would want you, in time, to find happiness again. Be kind and patient with yourself during this very traumatic time.

    Thank you for your comments. I hope my blog posts are helpful to you.

    Best wishes,
    Nyomi

  8. Nyomi says:

    Hello Anjali,

    My deepest sympathies on the loss of your husband.

    I’m very glad my blog post is helpful for you. Thanks for visiting my website and taking the time to comment.

    Best wishes,
    Nyomi

  9. Mark Advent says:

    fresh and invigorating – good knowledge to start and end the day.

  10. Rahul Gold says:

    The lines mentioned above are satisfying, but the loss of a dear one is difficult to absorb. In my opinion, time can only heal the loss. Yes, the company of your dear ones will always help.
    I lost my father a few days ago and I was very attached to him and I cant control my emotions for this loss. Me and my father stayed together for years and the bonding was great. My father died in my arms due to a cardiac arrest. I am having a lot of guilt feeling that I could not save my father from this disease when a cure was also available. I felt he was feeling week for last few days, but I could not do anything as I thought its just a normal weekness and was not aware of the dreadful situation later. I could have arranged for medical service earlier which could have saved my father. This regret will always be with me…

  11. Nyomi says:

    Dear Rahul,

    Deepest sympathies on the loss of your father. I believe you didn’t cause his death. You did your best. You don’t need to feel guilty that your father died. You were unaware of what was happening with his health, which happens to many people around the world, and is very understandable. With such a huge variety of health problems that people can possibly develop, it can be hard to determine whether a person has a mild, moderate or severe type. Even trained health professionals get it wrong sometimes, with misdiagnosis all too common.

    I can imagine the intense pain you are going through. I had a similar thing happen to me a few years ago. Your pain, I’m sure, would be worse though, given you’ve lost your father. What happened to me was that about three years ago I had my favorite pet die in my arms. Shortly before he died he had breathing troubles. I drove him to the vet soon after I noticed he was sick, but he died in my arms as I was carrying him into the veterinary clinic.

    That pet was very special to me – one of my best friends – and I loved him dearly. That day was undoubtedly one of the worst days of my life to date. I was extremely upset over his death.

    I did my best to save my little boy, but nothing helped. I know I didn’t cause his death. I did my best, and that’s all I could do.

    I thank God for all the special times we had together over the years and how blessed I am to have had him in my life. I am not going to be upset that he only lived a few years, when some animals of his variety live a lot longer. I believe it was his time to go, otherwise he would have survived.

    Just writing this response reminds me of the day he died, and I have tears in my eyes now, so I won’t write much more, as it’s like re-living that day. I have moved on, and I’m not angry over my pet’s death, and I never was. I understand that everything in life passes and, tragically and unfortunately, we can lose the ones we love the most.

    I recommend that you see a trauma/grief counselor over your loss, if you aren’t already seeing one. Trained professionals can make a lot of difference to help us with grief.

    Thank you for visiting my website and commenting.

    Look after yourself, Rahul.

    My prayers are with you.

    Nyomi

  12. Rachael says:

    This article and comments have helped a little, thank you. I am 21 and i lost my mother to cancer about 5 weeks ago. I have just moved back to college and i have been very stressed and i think i have formed some sort of depression i am trying to overcome. I feel like i’m trying to get over my grieving process too quickly and them i just break down at random times and cant control my emotions. it has been a rough few weeks for me and i am trying to figure out how to cope.

  13. Nyomi says:

    Hi Rachael,

    My deepest sympathies on the loss of your mother. Grief/trauma counseling and/or a relevant support group might be helpful during this very difficult time.

    Thank you for commenting. I’m glad my blog post helped a little.

    Take care and look after yourself.

    Best wishes,
    Nyomi

  14. angelica says:

    I lost my beloved sister three weeks ago. She was my reason for living. I am so broken and empty. I don’t see my life without her. I feel I could have done more to make her happy during her life…she was only 26 years old. She had a heart condition. I miss her so much. I don’t know what to do anymore.

  15. Nyomi says:

    Dear Angelica,

    Thank you for your comment and for sharing your thoughts and life. That is such sad news about your sister. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    You are not alone. Are you going to grief counseling? A good counselor/psychologist can be very helpful during hard times like this.

    Good books, blog posts, articles and so on about grief can also be worthwhile reading.

    There are toll-free phone numbers we can call when we need to talk to someone when we’re grieving/in need of other help. It’s also good to be in contact with loving friends and family who can help you through this.

    Take care and look after yourself, Angelica. Even though your sister has passed away, you have a reason, and a right, to be alive. Your sister would like you to live a full and happy life. Dedicate your future to her memory.

    All the best,
    Nyomi

  16. Mary says:

    My husband passed away unexpectedly about a month ago. While I accept that he is gone, and cherish all the good years we had together, I am just so unprepared to move on without him. Being responsible for everything by myself, paying the bills, taking care of the house, etc. It is all so new. My familiar routines are thrown off. We did not have many close friends, and I find when people ask how I’m doing, they really want me to say I’m fine. Or they tell me about some tragedy they’ve experienced. I know my husband did not plan it to be this way, and would want me to be happy. I find myself looking online for support, and found this site. The comments make me realize that others are having the same struggles, and the positive suggestions are reassuring. I hope everyone who posts here finds the comfort they seek.

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