Losing a Loved One Unexpectedly – 5 Tips from a Therapist
Loss is never easy. But losing a loved one unexpectedly can be one of the most overwhelming experiences in a person’s life. When someone you truly care about passes away suddenly, you might feel at a loss for what to do, or even how to feel.
The grief you’ll likely experience throughout the following days, weeks, and months after an unexpected loss can often feel like something you’ll never get out of.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to work through your emotions, grieve in healthy ways, and eventually move on after the loss of a loved one. That doesn’t mean you forget them. It means you can accept the fact that they’re gone and appreciate the time you had with them.
So, what can you do to get through the pain after unexpectedly losing a loved one?
1. Understand the Stages of Grief
You’ve probably heard about the stages of grief before. But unless you’ve experienced a loss in your life, you may not have actually gone through them.
Generally, the five stages of grief are:
While most people will go through all of these stages at some point after a loss, it’s important to understand that they aren’t linear. They shouldn’t serve as a timeline or checklist for how you grieve, and they certainly don’t have to go in a specific order.
When you know more about these grief stages, you can better understand how to get through them in a healthy way. If you’re not sure what that looks like, therapy can help.
2. Seek Support
Speaking of therapy, it’s one of the best ways to end up accepting the sudden loss of someone you love. A therapist can help you to make sense of your feelings and emotions and give you skills and resources to work through them.
You should also lean on family and friends during this time. It’s easy to want to isolate yourself. Maybe you even feel like you’re alone or that no one understands what you’re going through, but that’s rarely the case. Rely on your support system to lift you up and get you through this.
3. Create a Memory Book or Box
Just because someone you love is gone doesn’t mean your memories of them are lost forever. You certainly don’t forget about all the wonderful times you’ve shared with them. In fact, those memories are things you should be able to look back on fondly.
Honoring their memory with something like a scrapbook or memory box can help you through the grieving process. You can look back on those memories whenever you’re feeling down about the loss and be uplifted by the wonderful times you were able to share with that person.
4. Give Yourself Time
Just as there isn’t a specific way in which you should experience the stages of grief, there also isn’t a specific timeline. Some people might get through the grieving process in a few weeks. For others, it can take months or longer.
Don’t rush the grieving process or you won’t really be able to get through it in the way that works for you. Take your time and grieve for as long as you need to.
You should be naturally progressing through the stages, but you don’t have to lock yourself into a certain number of days, weeks, or months. If you don’t feel as though you’re moving on at all, seeking support can help.
5. Find Meaning
If it’s at all possible, try to find meaning in the loss of a loved one. That isn’t always easy to do when your mind is clouded with grief. Thankfully, you don’t have to try to put together the pieces on your own.
You have your family and friends. And, as mentioned before, individual counseling is also an effective and helpful way to get through losing a loved one unexpectedly. There’s no denying how trying the sudden loss of someone you love can be, but you can get through it with the right support. And you can find peace in your own life once again while honoring their memory.
If you’re feeling lost and you can’t seem to work through your grief, feel free to contact me. It would be my pleasure to support you on this journey.