The death of a close family member is cited as one of the five most stressful life events that an individual can go through. But unlike getting divorced, going to prison or being fired from your job, bereavement is something each and every one of us has to face from time to time.
According to medical research, stressful events do not just affect our psychological and mental wellbeing, they can also be directly related to physical illness. So what can we do to protect ourselves and our loved ones, to come through the toughest of times that are, after all, the most natural part of life?
1) One day at a time
It sounds like a cliché, but here’s the thing about clichés: they are invariably based on sound logic and good sense. Don’t think too far ahead, and focus on the here and now of what you need to do each day. This helps you keep your feet on the ground and continue to function as you need to.
2) Feel your emotions
Getting through each day does not mean shutting out your loss. The emotions that come with grief can manifest themselves in unexpected ways. You might experience sudden anger and feel yourself tensing up, or if you are stressed, this can take the form of an elevated heart rate. Acknowledge these feelings, and make a little time to understand them. It is all part of coming to terms with what has happened.
3) Take care of your physical health
As we have already mentioned, there is a strong link between emotional stress and physical wellbeing, so it is more important in times of bereavement than ever to take proper care of your health. Even if you have no appetite, make sure you eat regularly, and give yourself a boost with some natural supplements to boost your serotonin levels.
4) Stay close to family and friends
Don’t try to get through it alone. You will have friends and family who are in the same boat, so stick together and talk through your feelings. Remember, though, that everyone has their own way of getting through bereavement. Some will want to do nothing but talk, while others will prefer to keep busy. There is no right or wrong way, so try to be sensitive to the needs of others as well as yourself.
5) Dealing with an empty home
The hardest part can often be to spend time in a place that now seems empty without the presence of the departed loved one. Everywhere you look there will be reminders. Again, people have different ways of dealing with this. Some create what is almost a sanctuary, with the person’s belongings left out as if they will be home any moment. Others immediately clear everything, removing every reminder that the individual was ever there. Again, there is no right or wrong, but as a general principle, neither of these extremes is likely to be healthy, and the most important thing is to allow yourself time before you make any irreversible decision.