The loss of a loved one… and how to cope

Loss

The loss of a loved one, such as a parent (but also of a friend or acquaintance of whom we were very fond of) is a profound and terrible pain, from which we are unable to protect ourselves in any way at all.

It will happen, or has already happened, to all of us and we will inevitably feel a disintegration –humanly speaking–, of that family unit which had previously provided us with a sense of serenity.

If it is a parent, we will feel like the petering out of the nest within which we grew up and felt sheltered and safe. A place where,  as a child, I had personally always felt happy.

As good Christians, we can find comfort, in those moments, even in diligent prayer, which allows us to feel that our loved ones are still tied to our lives, forever. Psychologically speaking, without question, we have to go undergo several stages before we are able to expatiate our personal mourning.

To begin with, the shock that we feel when the death of that person occurs, will inevitably make us feel lost, abandoned, detached from the world that, just a moment before, seemed to us, to be a perfect place.

There might be a moment when the pain you feel, gives way to a profound sense of guilt, for not being able to prevent the suffering someone we loved so much, or for not having said something or done something you’ve kept putting to the back of your mind, kept meaning to say and now it’s impossible, we can no longer be able to speak or listen to them. It was too late. As I write this piece, it is the stage that I’m currently experiencing.

Then there are those moments of sheer and unmanageable anger, because we find it somewhat difficult to accept that in reality we are the protagonists of the terrible tragedy that has just occurred.

After a period of time, one day, gradually and finally, we suddenly begin to appreciate life again, we know that life perseveres, despite everything; we get used to, indeed we begin to adapt, to that loss and we begin to realise that our grief is only transitory; it is; dictated both by our nature and the unpredictable world within which we live.

For your hopeless and darker moments, I would like to suggest and share this short prayer:


Heavenly Father, you took to yourself a person who was very dear to me in this world. I loved them and had hoped to enjoy their presence for a little bit longer. Yet You Lord have decided otherwise and “Thy will be done” for You Father know best. The only comfort I feel in losing them is that You have received them into the bosom of Your mercy and that one day You will deign it timely that I might join them and You again one day. And if a remnant of their sins should keep them in torment and prevents them from returning to You, I offer You Father, all of my prayers and good works; above all my acceptance of this loss for their benefit. Father, You rightfully took back someone who belongs to You. I pray that You safeguard the person who is so dear to me throughout eternity, for Your glory, for theirs and for my consolation. Amen


Some Advice to help overcome bereavement

Grief can sometimes be somewhat complicated and in some cases may manifest with various symptoms along with mild to severe depression. In these cases, I would urge you to please seek the help of a psychologist or professional bereavement counsellor, a priest, or the Samaritans, who will help you define the best manner in which to prevail over your grief.

It is likely that you are experiencing a time of difficulty, the loss of a loved one can be extremely disconcerting and painful. Should that be the case, I would invite you to try the following steps that could help you accept the loved one’s absence, and allow you to pick up the threads of your life and continue.

The feelings that one might experience are:

Mourning can last up to a year or two, but it varies considerably and no-one can put a time frame upon it. Just when we thought we were OK the feelings can suddenly creep upon us again at any time, just when you least expect it.
  • DENIAL Disbelief – ‘This can’t be happening’ 
  • ANGER ‘How can this be happening to me?’ ‘Who is to blame?’
  • BARGAINING Often a negotiation with God for the pain to be taken away in exchange for a reformed life-style.
  • DEPRESSION ‘I miss my love one so much, why go on?’. This can be a time of withdrawal, may refuse to see visitors or receive help. A time spent crying. A very difficult time – not only for you but for those around you.
  • RELIEF Especially if it has been a very long or difficult illness – and this in turn can lead to feelings of
  • GUILT That it is wrong to enjoy life again

Time

Time is a crucial element for overcoming grief. Some people will take more time than others, we all deal with things differently and in our own way, but it is very important that we allow ourselves time. It’s necessary for our minds to get used to the idea that that person is no longer there and that we have to continue with our own lives.

Acceptance

The pain we feel during the loss of someone close, is unfortunately inevitable, but necessary, and to this we need to add the influx of various emotions which tend to make us feel somewhat dreadful both physically and emotionally. This process is normal though, and is overcome gradually, with time, as long as one doesn’t  begin to blame themselves or start to bottle up their feelings.

Expressing your feelings in order to overcome your bereavement

There is always someone who is willing to listen to you, to empathise with your pain you feel for the loss of your loved one. Talking about what happened and all the emotions that derive from it is a way of accepting that your loved one is no longer there and that only the memory of them now remains.

Not expressing all the emotions of sadness and frustration can be fraught with problems. In fact, you risk entrenching yourself into a state of utter isolation, which is far worse than mourning, and will effect those around you emotionally.

Remember… Life does goes on.

I understand that losing someone is something that is extremely difficult to deal with, it takes away  your will to live and live as you should. The person you lost would have wanted you to carry on. Do so to honour their memory, I believe and you yourself know that it is essential to overcome bereavement. We know that life must go on and that there are other people who rely on and need us as well.

Remember that your loved one would have always wanted that which is best for you and would rejoice if you regained your happiness despite their absence. Their aim in life was to love you and do whatever they could to make you smile and be happy.

Try to keep yourself busy with activities that distract you and that you enjoy. Equally important is that you share with your friends and family and dedicating some of your memories to the person who is no longer there. I did so after my brother was killed by writing a letter to his unborn son Ethan. I told Ethan how much his dad meant to me, what kind of a man his father was and what a big heart he had. I placed the letter and some photographs and personal belongings his dad had left with me into a box so that he might learn and get to know his dad through someone else’s eyes and have some things that had belonged to him. This helped me greatly and to a great extent placed my soul back at peace.

All of these things can help you out of your depression and is a very important step toward overcoming your bereavement.

Please take care of your own health and of other loved ones

The deep pain inflicted by the loss of a loved one makes us forget about the important things such as eating properly, physical activity, shopping, socialising and all those routines and activities that are good for us and which tend to improve our quality of life. It is essential to try to recover this normality and lifestyle because it will helps you out of the state of depression you find yourself in and prevent you from becoming both physically and mentally ill.

Overcoming your grief: Supporting family members who feel the same.

Although you feel a lot of pain, and the loss irreconcilable, please remember that you are not the only one who is suffering from the loss of that person and its highly likely your family members will need support as well, especially the younger members of your family.

When you support your family or people close to you, you are more likely to begin feeling better by helping those that are feeling the same way that you do. As a family you have that rare opportunity to reminisce about those happy, funny and memorable moments of that person and all the stories that they recounted. These will remain within your hearts forever.

Please remember to ask for help if you are having problems in dealing with loss. I’ve added some links that will help you locate the proper help:

Samaritans: Samaritans is a registered charity aimed at providing emotional support to anyone in emotional distress, struggling to cope, or at risk of suicide throughout Great Britain and Ireland, often through their telephone helpline.

Catholic Mental Health Project: Find Mental Health Pastoral Care

Better Help: Matches you to the right online therapist

Cruse Bereavement Care: Grief is a natural process, but it can be devastating. We are here to support you after the death of someone close. 

Sue Ryder Online Bereavement Community:  If you are struggling with grief, our Online Community is a place to share experiences.

NHS Mental Health: Grief after bereavement or loss. Support is available if you’re finding it hard to cope with stress, anxiety or depression.