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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Coping with the Loss of a Loved One: How to Take Care of Yourself

As we explored in the prior article, Coping with the Loss of a Loved One: Common Reactionseveryone is different when it comes to dealing with grief. What is right for one person is not right for another person. The following are some suggestions for how you can take care of yourself. Use your judgement in terms of what's right for you, and know that there are many other healthy ways to comfort yourself.

Coping with the Loss of a Loved One: How to Take Care of Yourself

Emotional support:
For most people, it's important to have the emotional support of people who are close to them. Don't isolate. Sometimes, people don't know how to express their condolences to you because they feel that whatever they might say would not be adequate compared to the depth of your feelings, but usually their intentions are heartfelt.

Coping with the Loss of a Loved One: The Importance of Emotional Support

It can be very comforting to talk to people who knew your loved one. Hearing their experiences and their memories can help to ease your pain. That's why memorial services are so helpful to families and friends. Remembering your loved one can help you to feel how much a part of you he will always be.

Allow yourself to feel your feelings:
Trying to avoid your feelings will only make them feel worse and prolong the pain. When you try to stuff your feelings, you can only do it temporarily.

Sooner or later, your feelings will come to the surface again and, if you avoid them, you might find yourself dealing with them in ways that are unhealthy (drinking, using drugs, overeating, overspending, developing health problems, etc). It's not unusual for the most recent loss of a loved one to bring up other losses.

Take the time when you're in a place where you feel safe and comfortable to allow yourself to cry, wail, or punch pillows, if that's what you want to do. You're not going crazy. These are normal feelings.

Coping with the Loss of a Loved One: Allow Yourself to Feel All Your Feelings

And don't allow well-meaning people to tell you things like, "You just have to move on with your life" while you're in the initial stage of grief or "Be strong" or any of the other inappropriate things that people say. If you find that some people are insensitive, don't share your feelings with them. Share your feeling only with people who are supportive of you. And be patient with yourself.

Seek professional help:
If you feel that your sadness is developing into depression, seek professional help. You might only need brief treatment to help you feel better.

About Me: 
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

You can call me at (212) 726-1006 for a consultation or email me: josephineolivia@aol.com