How to Cope with Loss

4 steps to grieve healthily

Loss can bring about grief, confusion, frustration and anger. Whether you're dealing with the loss of a job, a pet or a loved one, the process can feel insurmountable. Coping with loss is easier with a support system of friends and family, or even therapy. There is no correct format for grieving the loss of someone or something you love, but you can take steps to alleviate the pain, uncertainty and other emotions.

Step 1: Accept your emotions

Don't judge where you are in the grieving process. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, MD, a leading psychiatrist in the area of loss and grief, identified five stages of grief that people usually go through after a major tragedy, such as the loss of a loved one. The stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. You may not move through these emotional stages in order, or even experience all of them — just know that they are all normal. Accept where you are, and give yourself grace to feel.

Step 2: Don't forget yourself

When dealing with loss, it's easy to get wrapped up in the situation and forget to take care of yourself. Loss brings about a great deal of stress that can be emotionally and physically draining. Remember to eat regularly and healthily. If you can't handle exercising, try to get outside and at least take a walk alone or with a friend. Try journaling, painting or kick boxing — anything that helps you express your emotions in a healthy or constructive way.

Step 3: Take advantage of your support system

Letting your friends and family help you in any way they are willing to will make the burden of daily activities easier. Allow the people who care about you most to take care of little things like preparing meals, housekeeping or managing money. Lean on your support system for emotional and mental support, as well. Talk to them about what you are going through, and let them provide advice and solace. If you practice a particular faith, seek out comfort from your clergy.

Step 4: Professional help

There is no timeline for coping with loss, but if your feelings are not subsiding over time, you may want to seek professional therapy. You should also consider therapy if the grief progresses into feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or serious guilt. A therapist can help you work through the confusion or helplessness associated with long-term grief.

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