Posted on August 27, 2019
Untimely death causes a tremendous amount of pain. Get expert advice on how to process an unexpected death.
Unfortunately, death is an inevitable part of life. While no one wants to have to go through the process of grieving after losing someone close to them, we all will have to go through this process at some point. Grieving a loved one is extremely challenging, and when someone close to you passes away unexpectedly, it can be even more difficult to process your loss.
Shock and confusion can quickly turn into deep sadness. The loss of a loved one is also one of the main causes of depression. While sad feelings are a normal part of the grieving process that tends to get better with time, it’s helpful to find ways to consciously process your grief and move through your pain. Your grieving process may take months or even years, and that is okay. Some say that grieving the loss of a loved one never really ends. Note that there’s not a normal amount of time to be in grief, as the healing journey is different for everyone. However, there are preventative measures you can follow to make sure that healthy grief doesn’t turn into deeper issues that affect your mental fitness.
Every individual’s process with the death of a loved one will be different. After all, we’re all different and no two people will have had the same relationship with the person who passed. Whether you’re suffering for months or years, the guidance of a therapist can help you process the different stages of grief. Coming to terms with the death of a loved one is never easy, but having a solid support system behind you can make it easier. Use the advice in this article as a guide to help you through your process of mourning.
When someone close to you dies unexpectedly, the emotions you feel will likely take you for a bit of a ride. We tend to think of grief as a distinct period of intense sadness that occurs after something difficult happens. We think of our grief as having a distinct beginning and end, and we believe that it consists of specific feelings and stages. For most, this isn’t the case.
Grief is a complex and ongoing process that involves a wide range of emotional symptoms. Everyone deals with grief differently. Understanding the emotional responses that losing a loved one unexpectedly can invoke is important because it helps us understand our feelings. The emotional symptoms of grief include:
Being familiar with common feelings associated with grief can help us to be prepared for what we may experience in our own process. Remember, you might feel all of these feelings or none. You might feel them all at once or one at a time. You might feel them for a month or for the rest of your life. The important part is that you can recognize your own grief for what it is and have compassion for yourself.
You don’t need to be alone in your process with grief. After an unexpected death occurs, it’s easy to isolate yourself. The feelings that come up in your grieving process can be difficult to share with other loved ones, friends, and family members because you might not want to be a burden or to bring everyone down.
However, not choosing someone to talk to about your thoughts and feelings makes it very difficult to work through your emotions. Oftentimes, your friends and family are much more willing to support you than you might think. Simply being upfront with your emotional needs can go a long way. Try asking your loved ones if they could set some time aside to talk with you about your grief.
Friends and family can be a huge supporting force in all the different stages of grief. But it’s unlikely that they’ll be truly equipped to help and support you through all the different aspects of this difficult time. This is where grief counseling can play an important role.
Grief counseling is a type of therapy that’s specifically aimed at helping people cope with loss. This type of therapy can take on many different forms. In general, grief counseling is a form of talk therapy, so it primarily involves speaking one-on-one with a trained and licensed grief counselor. Within this framework, there’s a lot of room to personalize based on your specific needs.
Grief counselors are trained to be prepared to handle all of the effects of someone’s grieving process. Sometimes, the anguish you may feel after losing a loved one unexpectedly is simply too much to process with friends and family. In these cases, having a skilled grief counselor as a resource can make a huge difference in your healing.
This form of therapy can help you work through your heartbreak due to sudden death. As you move through the stages of grief, a skilled grief counselor can guide you along the way.
There are certain ways that you can lean on yourself in addition to others. Taking care of yourself properly after an unexpected death is essential to your well-being.
Grief can take a physical toll as well as an emotional one. Major changes in appetite that result in weight gain or loss are common. Try to mitigate the effect of stress on your body by eating a normal amount of healthy foods. Eating plenty of quality foods including vegetables and fruits can improve and stabilize your mood. Think of this as giving your body the fuel it needs to cope with the extra emotional weight it’s carrying.
During a period of grief, be extra cautious with your intake of alcohol and any other mind-altering substances. It can be particularly tempting during a painful time to just have a couple of drinks in order to lessen the burden a bit. This isn’t a healthy way to approach your grief.
Numbing the pain isn’t a long term solution. While it might feel good to use drugs or alcohol to temporarily ease your feelings of grief, this is the same thing as placing a bandaid on a major wound. Your grief requires attention, care, and time to process. Drinking, smoking, or using other substances isn’t an effective way to work through your feelings.
It’s also completely normal to feel like you need to take a break from the grieving process. In these moments, try doing something you enjoy such as engaging in a hobby or hanging out with some friends to distract yourself.
If you’ve just lost a loved one from sudden death, please remember you don’t have to go through the grieving process alone. Needing a therapist is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. At Advekit, we pair trained therapists with individuals to help them improve their mental fitness for a brighter and happier future. Let us help you find the right match during your time of need.
Alison LaSov, LMFT
Alison LaSov is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with experience treating clients struggling with anxiety and depression. She predominantly focuses on mental health intervention for children and adolescents, particularly those who are in crisis. She has worked within the Los Angeles education system treating students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), as well as supervised a non-profit Teen Crisis Hotline out of Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Alison earned her B.A. from UCLA and M.A. from Pepperdine University. She is a native to Los Angeles and co-founder at Advekit.