Month: May 2013

Coping with Loss

Coping with Loss


Losing someone we love is likely the most painful and difficult experience we face. Of course there are no easy answers but there are a few things that we can do to support the person who is grieving, even if it is us!

Grief, like most things in life is a process. Swiss Psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross was a pioneer in the study of grief and laid the groundwork for how we view it today in her book “On Death and Dying”. Kubler-Ross made note of five very clear stages that one goes through when coming to terms with the death of a loved one or their own impending death. These stages are: 1) denial 2) anger 3) bargaining 4) depression 5) acceptance. No two people go through the process at exactly the same speed or order and many times we move back and forth between the stages before we arrive at acceptance.

These stages underline the reality that grieving takes time and that it is a process of coming to terms with our loss. It’s a very painful period of time and not an easy course to navigate but with time and patience and the right support we can find ourselves coming to a place of acceptance. It’s not the we will not feel the pain, but that it will be more bearable and we will be able to go on and live out our lives.

How we grieve will depend on many things, how we have coped with stress in the past, the support system we have in place and the circumstances surrounding our loved one’s death. A sudden loss may be more difficult to come to terms with than a prolonged illness where we have likely already grieved little by little for a long time.  If we have a history of alcohol or drug abuse, these same patterns may arise again. It is important to seek outside support and support groups are readily available.


EXERCISE: When at all possible going for a long walk every day with a friend can hep you both physically and mentally. Exercise has been shown to raise the good chemicals in your body and help dissipate the bad.  Walking with a friend also provides a good opportunity for conversation.

SPEND TIME OUTSIDE: Fresh air and sunshine is also beneficial to our mood and sense of well-being.

KEEP A ROUTINE: One of the hardest things about coping with the loss of a loved one is that it shakes our sense of security. Keeping a routine will provide an foundation for the healing process.

JOIN A SUPPORT GROUP: A support group is very helpful, particularly if you don’t have family and friends near by. A good place to look for a support group is through your local Hospice organization.

CRY: Crying is healthy, particularly when we are suffering a loss. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks, let the tears flow.

MAKE AN EFFORT TO SPEND TIME WITH FRIENDS: Respect your need or desire to be alone, but do spend some time each week outside of the home with friends.

©Dorothy Sander 2013





GRIEFNET.ORG – An internet community of persons dealing with grief, death, and major loss.