Losing a loved one is unfortunately something all of us have to cope with at some point in our lives. But whether you know it’s coming or it’s a sudden shock, it’s always hard. Grief hits us all in unique ways, and we all have different coping methods. It’s natural to feel lost and unsure of what to do after losing somebody close to you, so here we look at different spiritual techniques to help you cope in those difficult moments, and help you begin the process of healing and moving on.
- Acknowledge and feel your feelings
It’s natural when in pain to try to smother or forget your feelings by distracting yourself. However, this will only delay the healing process. You’re allowed to feel sad and hurt, and nobody will judge you for that.
The first step in the healing process is to acknowledge how you feel and allow yourself to feel those emotions. It’s understandably hard to allow yourself to feel pain, but it gets easier with time. By allowing yourself this time to feel your emotions, you’re giving yourself control over them instead of running away from them and inevitably being overwhelmed when they catch up with you.
One suggestion is to set a time limit: give yourself a set time (such as 15 minutes a day) to really get in touch with and process your emotions, and then allow yourself to get on with your day.
This may seem impossible at first, but as time goes the pain will lessen, allowing you to think of happy memories of your loved one. And you will find you no longer need to deliberately stop and embrace them; it will have become a natural part of your daily life.
- Find an outlet
If you’re struggling to cope with your feelings, it helps to find a healthy outlet for them. When your feelings are overwhelming you, letting some of them out will relieve the pressure - allowing you to go on feeling better and lighter.
There are numerous ways to express your feelings in a healthy way. Many people choose exercise. Go for a walk (or a run, if you can), take an exercise class or try yoga.
Or perhaps choose a creative outlet - try drawing or painting, or perhaps even take an art class to really learn how to express your feelings creatively.
Writing is also an excellent way to process and express your feelings. Spend time writing how you feel in a journal. Perhaps even write a letter to your loved one, telling them how you feel. This can help you get some closure and help you move on.
- Confide in a loved one
Another healthy outlet for your feelings is talking. The people closest to you will most likely be feeling the same things you are, so try to help each other express and process those feelings by talking about them.
This will help you see that what you’re going through is normal, and that you’re not alone in your grief. Cry if you need to, and know that it’s perfectly healthy. And try to laugh too - think of the happy memories you have of your loved one, and celebrate their life together.
- Connect with your inner spirit
In the hardest moments, you may feel like you’re not strong enough to cope, and that your feelings are overwhelming you.
When this happens, it’s important to remind yourself what you’re capable of. Getting in touch with your inner spirit will help you face your feelings and find the strength to pick yourself up and carry on.
People often connect to their inner spirit through prayer or meditation. You don’t need to be religious to pray – it’s simply a method of communication to help you connect to your inner spirit. Taking some time out of the hustle and bustle of the day (even if it’s just 15 minutes) to sit quietly and connect to your inner spirit will help remind you what you’re capable of, and help you feel as though you’re not alone.
- Most importantly, be good to yourself while you heal
You’ll probably have noticed a pattern in all the techniques I’ve mentioned – it’s important to be gentle and look after yourself while you heal. Moving on from a loss is a process, and some moments or days will be harder than others. In the tough moments, it’s important to be extra kind to yourself.
Loss affects our bodies in many different ways - physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually - and you need to take care of yourself. During the hardest times, it is natural not to feel up to, or even to forget, basic things like eating exercising. However, it’s at these times that you need to look after yourself most.
It helps to set a loose schedule for yourself to remind you to do these things. It could even help to set an alarm to make sure you stop and do them when you’re busy. Focus on eating healthy foods, getting a little exercise every day and doing something to help you feel good (like reading a book, meditating, talking to a friend, getting out into the sunshine or watching a feel-good film).
As I’ve mentioned, healing is a long process, and one that gets easier with time. I’m confident these techniques will help you in those difficult moments, and that you’ll be able to move on when you’re ready with a positive outlook and the ability to think of your loved one fondly without pain.