When I lost my best friend to cancer, grief swept over me like a tidal wave.
I felt like I was drowning all the time and I just couldn’t catch my breath. I looked everywhere for some sort of raft to keep me afloat because I desperately needed to cope and heal. During my search, I learned so much about being human and managing my emotions. In fact, the whole experience changed the way I look at death.
Looking back, I now realize what an honor it was to pray someone all the way to heaven.
Have you had someone you love pass away? Here are 10 of my favorite pieces of advice on grief that I gathered to deal with the death of my best friend . Maybe this list can bring a little peace and comfort to you or a friend with coping with the passing of a loved one.
Tip #1: Understand there are stages to grief.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross developed a five-stage system for the process of grief in which people tend to go through various stages of emotions after loss. The first stage is denial in which a person does not want to believe that the event happened followed by the second stage, which is anger. The third step is a negotiation process with one's self in which a person offers something in return for the loss to have never happened. The fourth step is depression, which is often debilitating followed by the last stage, which is acceptance that the loss happened. From there, a person can typically move on from the loss. There is no hard and fast timeline to each stage of grief, and there are situations where a person falls back to the previous stage before moving ahead through the grieving process. Being aware of the stages does provide something for your coping mechanism to process along the way. (Credit: HuffPost)
Tip #2: Express your feelings
Psychologists have long talked about the benefits of expressing how you feel. Recently neuroscientists from UCLA have shown that talking about emotions has a noticeable effect on the brain and reduces the intensity of the emotion. In short, it’s important that you find a way to identify and accept how you are feeling. This doesn’t always have to be by talking to another person – try writing a journal instead if you’re uncomfortable talking about your grief. (Credit: Funeral Zone).
Note: At Because Love, we actually know how important journaling is. That’s why we created the LOVE HEALS Journal to help the people we love in our life deal with all of the crazy emotions that come with cancer. You can learn more about it here.
Tip #3: Write a letter
The letter can be addressed to anyone (your deceased loved one, a family member, future grandchildren, a religious figure, etc.), and you only need to share with others if you feel comfortable. Writing down your thoughts will help express your emotions in a healthy, productive manner. (Credit: Frazer Consultants)
Tip #4: Exercise
Make sure some form of exercise is part of your daily routine. It doesn’t have to be anything strenuous. Stretching or a few easy yoga poses can help release tension. Even something as simple as a 20-minute walk may help lift your spirits. Choose an activity you enjoy, so you can look forward to it. (Credit: Chopra)
Tip #5: Plan for life event "triggers."
While you may have been able to navigate through all the stages of grief, know that there may be "triggers" in the near future that may bring all those emotions rushing back once more. Typically, there are life milestones that remind you of a loss like holidays, birthdays, anniversaries or some other special event. Here is where families and friends can again lend support so call on them. Most likely, they will be thinking about those moments too and will be wondering how you feel. Have a plan where you can turn these "triggers" into positive moments, such as a celebration or time to meditate on the happiness you enjoyed together before the loss. (Credit: HuffPost)
Tip #6: Do volunteer work
There’s growing evidence from various studies that doing volunteer work has a positive mental impact. Apart from providing a distraction, doing something to help others can make you feel better about the world, boost your self-confidence and help you meet new people. (Credit: Funeral Zone)
Tip #7: Forgive yourself
Following a loss, many people may develop feelings of guilt, believing they somehow willed the death or feeling remorseful for not visiting the deceased more in their final days or months. Let these feelings go so you can begin to heal. (Credit: Frazer Consultants)
Tip #8: Socialize with friends
Grieving is an isolating experience. If you feel like you need to be alone, that is fine. You have to grieve in the way that seems right to you. But maintaining social relationships can be a way of getting the comfort and support you need. Try to schedule a few meetings with friends in an environment that you are comfortable in. And remember – if you have fun, this is okay. The small moments of laughter and happiness during grief are important and you do not need to feel guilty about them. (Credit: Funeral Zone)
Tip #9: Focus on the positive aspects of your life
This loss could feel like the worst thing ever in your life and no one can tell you any different. However, what you do need is to consider all the good things that are still with you in life that are worth working through the grief. You cannot feel guilty about getting back to living and enjoying life. It may even help to make a list of all the positive things in your life that are "gains." Set against that loss, these "gains" begin to outweigh the sadness and provide a catapult to help you move forward again. (Credit: HuffPost)
Tip #10 : Breathe
If you find yourself drifting, take a few deep breaths. The body gets the oxygen it needs from the bottom of the lungs, but when we are tense and feeling stressed, our breathing tends to be shallow. Insufficient oxygen stresses the body, which just adds to the stress you’re already feeling. Conscious, deep breaths not only help you relax, they give your system the oxygen it requires to function normally. (Credit: Chopra)
BONUS Tip: Watch this TED Talk
"We don't 'Move On' from grief. We deal with it."
I hope you find these tips as helpful as I did. Please know that if you're grieving, you are not alone! There are people who love you, who have been in your shoes, and who want to support you. Come join my Facebook Group, because love - support for supporters. a cancer group.