Coping with the mental health impacts...

Coping with the mental health impacts of the death of a friend or family member

by Mara Hurst
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Seven months ago, I lost my grandmother. She was my last grandparent, and so the loss hit me very hard. I have quite a large family, but she was definitely the glue that held us together. Losing a loved one is a troublesome thing to work through. Despite it seeming like the grief will be impossible to work through, there are small things you can do to make it easier.

I suffer from anxiety, and a panic disorder, so big changes disrupt my mental stability. Losing my grandmother was a drastic change in my life, and therefore, disrupted my mental state. My first piece of advice is to not go through your grief alone. Grief is something everyone will go through, and it is important to find support in others to not feel so isolated. If you are dealing with the death of a family member, look to your other family members for support. They are experiencing the same sort of loss as you are, so it may be nice to discuss your feelings with them.

Another thing to keep in mind is to not be afraid of your feelings. During a time of bereavement, sometimes it’s comforting to avoid emotions all together and numb out these negative feelings. When you do this, your body holds on to your stress and the negative feelings will present themselves in physical symptoms. By allowing yourself to feel whatever you need to, there’s a release of tension. Expressing emotions is very freeing. Let yourself be free.

Third, know that the grief will lessen. I can’t say the feeling fully goes away; however, it will become more manageable. Eventually, the heaviness of grief will leave your shoulders and a small part of it will rest in your heart. Grief sticking with you isn’t a bad thing. It allows you to remember your loved one and keep them with you. As author Jamie Anderson said, “Grief I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you wanted to give, but cannot.” It is never a bad thing to love.

If you are finding your grief is far too much for you to bear, therapy is always an option. There are many different therapy types, and each individual therapist has their own style. You can find one who specializes in bereavement counseling, so you can specifically discuss the loss of your loved one. Another option is to find bereavement groups. Some groups are specifically for widows or parents who have lost their child. In these groups, you will find people going through a very similar situation as you. Finding people who can relate to your situation is very comforting.

Overall, the most important thing is to remember you are never alone when dealing with loss. There is someone who is experiencing, or who has experienced your situation. They may have good advice on what to do. Never be afraid to reach out to someone if you need help.

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