After losing a loved one, families tend to deal with grief in different ways. For instance, most men will choose to hide their feelings and keep to themselves out of fear of appearing weak or vulnerable in front of other people. Meanwhile, a majority of women are more likely to talk about their emotions and will open up to friends and loved ones about their sorrows. But what about the children?
According to American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, kids react differently to grief based on their age. Younger children usually think that death is temporary, while kids between 5 to 10 years old may think more like adults about death but would never dream that it can affect them or anyone they’re close to. Because of the different ways that family members react to a loss, it’s vital to ensure that everyone gets through this difficult time together. Here’s how families can cope with the loss of a loved one.
Be on the lookout for serious grief problems
It’s normal to feel sad at the loss of a partner, a parent, or a child, but if your loved one is showing signs of serious grief such as loss of appetite, inability to sleep, or loss of interest in everyday activities, then he or she may be having difficulties coping with grief. It’s important to be supportive and not to push a person—especially a child—into “getting over it” as there is no definite timetable for grieving, nor is there a specific way to deal with a loss.
The one thing that you can do is to be there for them, talk about your shared loss, and to reminisce about the good times with the departed. If grief problems persist, professional help may be needed, so look for qualified mental health professionals to help a loved one through the mourning period.
Preserve good memories
Rather than trying to forget, it’s important to preserve memories and celebrate the life of a departed loved one. Together, you can plant a garden as a tribute to your loved one, make a scrapbook of their life, or volunteer for their favorite causes. Apart from being a positive way to cope with loss, doing such activities is a great way for your family to bond and to keep busy while mourning. If you find yourself having fun while doing so, don’t feel guilty—it’s possible to find moments of happiness, even while grieving.
Take some time for self-care
It’s important to take some time for self-care during this challenging time, so having enough time to exercise, eating a healthy diet, and having some time for relaxation is a must. Head outdoors as a family and go walking or hiking. You may also choose to go on a weekend getaway or go on a spiritual retreat—being in nature can be an effective way to start the healing process after a loss. If you’ve been relying on takeout or leftovers for the past weeks, shop for healthy food, get in the kitchen, and get cooking. Afterward, everyone can sit down to a healthful and delicious meal.
Losing a loved one is never easy, but when families try to help one another during the mourning period, the road to acceptance and peace is not far ahead. Be there for each other, love one another, and remember the good times with your loved one. You’ll find that as the days go by, things start to look a little better and you’re stronger as a family as you come together to cope with your shared loss.