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How can people cope with grief?

There remains some controversy about how to best help people survive the loss of a loved one. While many forms of support are available and do help certain individuals, little scientific research has shown clear benefits for any particular approach for grief reactions in general. That is thought to be because each approach to support is so different that it is hard to scientifically compare one to another, intervention procedures are not consistently reported in publications, and the ways these interventions have been studied are flawed. Although there has been some concern that grief counseling for uncomplicated grief sufferers works against bereavement recovery, there is research to the contrary. One approach to treating grief is the dual process model, which endorses the bereavement process as being the dynamic struggle between the pain of the death of the loved one (loss-oriented) and recovery (restoration-oriented). This model of treatment recommends that bereaved individuals alternate between directly working on their loss (confrontation) and taking a break from (avoidance) that process when appropriate. For couples that are grieving the occurrence of a miscarriage, brief professional counseling has been found to be helpful.

Quite valuable tips for journaling as an effective way of managing bereavement rather than just stirring up painful feelings are provided by the Center for Journal Therapy. While encouraging those who choose to write a journal to apply no strict rules to the process, some of the ideas encouraged include limiting the time journaling to 15 minutes per day or less to decrease the likelihood of worsening grief, writing how one imagines his or her life will be a year from the date of the loss, and clearly identifying feelings to allow for easier tracking of the individual's grieving process.

To help children and adolescents cope emotionally with the death of a friend or family member, it is important to ensure they receive consistent caretaking and frequent interaction with supportive adults. For children of school age and older, appropriate participation in school, social, and extracurricular activities is necessary to a successful resolution of grief. For adolescents, maintaining positive relationships with peers becomes important in helping teens figure out how to deal with grief. Depending on the adolescent, they even may find interactions with peers and family more helpful than formal sources of support like their school counselor. All children and teens can benefit from being reassured that they did not cause their loved one to die, and such reassurance can go a long way toward lessening the developmentally appropriate tendency children and adolescents have for blaming themselves and any angry feelings they may have harbored against their lost loved one for the death.

Effective coping tips for grieving are nearly as different and numerous as there are bereaved individuals. The bereaved individual's caring for him/herself through continuing nutritious and regular eating habits, getting extra rest, and communicating with surviving friends and families are some ways for grief sufferers to ease the grief process. The use of supportive structure can also go a long way to helping the aggrieved individual come to terms with their loss. Anything from reciting comforting prayers or affirmations, to returning to established meal and bedtimes, as well as returning to work or school routines can help grieving individuals regain a sense of normalcy in their lives. As death involves the loss of an imperfect relationship involving imperfect individuals, forgiveness of the faults of the lost loved one and of the inherently imperfect relationship between the bereaved and the deceased can go a long way toward healing for the bereaved. While the painful aspects of dealing with death are clear, bereavement sometimes also leads to enhanced personal development.

Return to Grief: Loss of a Loved One

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Comment from: Birdy, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: December 02

I lost my fianc´┐Ż to suicide. I feel isolated and irregular modes spurts of anger towards those nearest to me and really resents full and unsure about almost everything I do towards others and myself. I'm more angry than sad and I feel very little about myself but hurt inside when I'm getting ready to go to bed or the sun goes down I feel a sense of emptiness in my body along with anger and hurt and I cry for him wishing he was still among us just a call away the fact that I can't hear his voice terrifies me. And takes my breath away I loved him so much. Since he took his life I feel I should take mine but then I think about my children and it seems more bearable to continue living. Objects seem deem and dull no interest in my life. When I wake up I feel there is no sense in starting a new day without him in our lives I'm sick of feeling at all.

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Comment from: wheezie, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: November 08

I was divorcing my husband after 23 years. He was a great father, worked hard, but not a great husband; he liked to drink party and gamble. I have Crohn's and had so many surgeries so after my last surgery in 2011 I decided I had to end our marriage. He would not get help he would say that is for weak people. I begged him and he was insulin dependent and killing himself with all of his bad habits. It was killing me so when I left he got so much more controlling and sexually assaulted me, but I moved away and he had gotten sick. He died in April 2016 and I am grieving for him and my children are a mess. I can't help them if I can't even help my grieving! Our children are 25 and 26 and we have 3 grand daughters who loved him dearly also! Even though I knew I had to leave him to save my life it was the hardest heart breaking thing I ever had to do because I still loved him but could not take the abusive behavior anymore! But I am hurting and blaming myself for his death. If I would have stayed I could have helped him but I also think, well, I did for 23 years and he would not listen to me about partying and drinking so how can I make him do anything!

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