Friday, March 17, 2017

Moving Forward After the Loss of a Loved One

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Submitted by David Garcia at

Losing someone you love is one of the hardest things you’ll experience in life. Even though losing someone is a natural part of life, you still feel an immense amount of grief. This grief can sometimes manifest into anxiety and depression. Although working through grief is difficult, it can also be a “catalyst for a renewed sense of meaning that offers purpose and direction to life,” says the American Psychological Association (APA).

Strategies for Moving Forward

If you’re grieving, utilizing strategies suggested by the APA can help you come to terms with your loss. It can be difficult to talk about the loss of a loved one, but speaking with family, friends, and colleagues can help you understand what happened and to remember your loved one. If you deny his or her death and keep it to yourself, you’re isolating yourself, which can drive you further into depression and hinder your progress toward moving forward.

Accept your feelings – all of them. People experience a range of emotions after losing someone they love, sometimes moving between emotions or feeling many different emotions at once. Sadness, anger, frustration and even exhaustion are all in the range of normal grieving emotions. The Huffington Post points out that two people dealing with the loss of the same individual, such as siblings mourning the loss of a parent, can feel completely different emotions and deal with the loss in entirely different ways. “This is your personal journey, and you’re allowed to feel, think, say or do whatever it is that you need to heal,” states the Huffington Post.

Even though you’re moving forward, you can still remember and celebrate the life of your loved one. Consider donating to his or her favorite charity, framing photos of fun times, or planting a garden in his or her memory. The Huffington Post says instead of focusing on their death, celebrate their lives by cherishing the memories and continuing their legacies.

Be sure to take care of yourself by eating well, exercising, and getting adequate rest, recommends the APA. This will make each day a step in the right direction of moving forward. Taking care of your family is also a great way to continue to move forward. You can also help others who are dealing with the loss of a loved one. You’ll feel better knowing that you’re helping someone else, and it’s nice to have someone who understands exactly where you’re coming from. Empathy is a powerful thing.

A great piece of advice from the Huffington Post is to travel. “When you’re grieving, it feels like nothing else is happening in the world, and all you seem to do is focus on the negativity that’s happening around you,” they state. Remind yourself that the world is filled with beautiful, positive, and inspiring things. Traveling can help you to heal.

Licensed psychologist Claire Bidwell Smith told Psychology Today that traveling often gives you an insightful look into your life, and that’s even truer when you’re grieving. It serves as way to see that the world is still spinning. Traveling can be a strong reminder that you still have a full life ahead of you, and you’re not ready to throw in the towel.

Reaching Out to a Professional

Speaking with a licensed psychologist or other mental health professional can help you cope and find ways to move forward. According to the APA, “Psychologists are trained to help people better handle the fear, guilt, or anxiety that can be associated with the death of a loved one.” Psychologists use a variety of evidence-based treatments, generally psychotherapy, to help people improve their lives. The APA offers a free psychologist locator to help you find a psychologist in your area. Many insurance companies also offer a search engine to help you find a specific doctor or specialist in your area.

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