How to Cope With Death: 6 Ways to Deal With the Pain
Did someone close to you just pass away?
Does the pain feel so intense that you feel like you won’t be able to carry on another day?
Do you feel totally lost because you have no idea how to cope with death?
Losing a loved one is one of the hardest things you’ll ever go through. And, it can be even harder to try and figure out what to do with all of the pain inside of you.
So, where do you go from here? Do you just shove the pain down inside of you and hope it goes away?
While it may not feel like it now, the pain inside of you will subside. In the past year, 8 million Americans lost an immediate family member.
That’s 8 million people who found a way to continue to live their lives despite the death of a loved one.
So, what did these people do to get through their loss?
Coping with grief is different for everyone. But, we can say there are some coping mechanisms that seem to work for most people.
What are they?
Read this guide to learn how to cope with death.
1. Join the Rituals
Even if you’re not a religious or traditional person, joining in on the rituals associated with loss can be an extremely powerful way to heal.
Depending on the background of the person who passed away, there may be a funeral, memorial service, vigil, or other tradition to commemorate their passing.
You should make an effort to attend every event that you are invited to. Even though a lot of these events take place just mere days after the person passed away, they can be extremely comforting.
During these events, you will get the opportunity to celebrate the life of the person who passed as well as surround yourself with others who are affected by their passing.
This can help you feel less alone and also provide an outlet to express your feelings.
2. Understand the Stages of Grief
Many people are surprised by their emotions during the grieving process. A lot of people think that grieving just means feeling sad until you one day feel happy again, but the process is actually a lot more complex than that.
In 1969, a psychiatrist by the name of Elisabeth Kubler Ross developed something called the 5 stages of grief. These stages represent the different emotions people feel after facing death or tragedy. The five stages are:
1. Denial: “I can’t believe they’re gone”/”This can’t be happening to me”
2. Anger: “Why did this have to happen?”/”Who is to blame for this”
3. Bargaining: “In return for this not happening, I will…”
4. Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything”
5. Acceptance: “I feel at peace about what has happened”
It’s important to note that the stages of grief are different for everyone. Some may spend weeks working through all five stages, while others may spend years. And, some may spend months and months stuck in one phase, and then only spend a few days working through another.
It’s important to not compare where you are in the grieving process to where another person is.
During the grieving process, you’re also going to experience a range of other emotions. These include:
These emotions are all completely normal and allowing yourself to feel each one is healthy.
3. Help Others Grieve
When grieving the loss of a loved one, you’ll often feel like you can barely take care of yourself. Helping others with their grieving may feel like a nearly impossible task.
But, helping others with their grief is actually a great way for you to heal as well.
When helping others with their grief you should:
- Share in their sorrow: Encourage others to share and express their feelings
- Avoid offering false comfort: Saying cliche things like “It was for the best”, doesn’t do anyone any good. Instead, offer a simple statement to express your sorrow and then listen
- Offer practical help: When you’re at a loss for words, the best thing to do is offer practical help. Cooking, babysitting, running errands, or searching for justice if the loved one died wrongfully are all great ways to show you care
- Be patient: As we said earlier, the grieving process can take a long time. Be patient with yourself and with others
By making yourself available to others, you’ll be able to deal with your grief in a much healthier way.
4. Take Care of Yourself
Of course, even though it’s important to make time for others during the grieving process, you also don’t want to forget about taking care of yourself.
Don’t forget to eat well, exercise, and spend time with your family. And, try to carve out a little time each day to take part in some self-care. Some good self-care practices include:
- Taking a bath
- Watching a favorite TV show
- Going for a walk
- Creating art
- Calling an old friend
- Doing yoga
Also, don’t ever let yourself feel guilty about doing self-care. This is a necessary part of the healing process and something you should be doing anyway to take care of your health.
5. Celebrate the Loved One’s Life
In the midst of being sad about losing a loved one, you also don’t want to forget to celebrate their life.
Some things you can do to celebrate their life include:
- Donating to a charity they supported
- Framing a photo of the two of you having a good time
- Planting a garden in their memory
- Passing on their name to a family member
How you choose to celebrate them is really up to you, just so long as it allows you to honor the unique relationship you shared.
6. Seek Professional Help
There is absolutely nothing wrong or shameful about seeking professional help if the grief feels like it’s too much.
In fact, seeking professional help for your grief is one of the healthiest things you can do.
There are many therapists who specialize in grief counseling, so be sure to find one who is right for your needs.
Now You Know How to Cope With Death
As you can see, there are a lot of productive things you can do to cope with the death of a loved one.
Just remember, the grieving process takes a while, so take your time and don’t feel guilty about where you’re at.
If you have any questions about how to cope with death, let us know in the comments below.
Also, remember that death is a part of life and everyone will pass away someday, so it’s best to be prepared. To start preparing yourself for your own passing, read this article to learn what to keep in mind when writing a will.