As you get older, you’ll likely experience many different types of loss. Loss doesn’t always imply the death of a loved one (though it can be) – sometimes it’s just a close friend moving away, or a relationship that ends.
Whatever your loss, and however recent or raw it feels, loss is an enormous and often overwhelming experience to cope with and move forward from. And often, it’s hard to know where to begin.
If this resonates with you, here are some positive strategies for coping with loss you might find useful:
Be gentle and compassionate with yourself.
- Don’t try and rush the mourning process – remind yourself (and others) that it takes time, and there is no exact or common amount of time after which you have to “get over it.”
- Keep yourself eating and exercising regularly, and let yourself ask for help if you struggle to do this.
- Allow yourself to postpone major life decisions or trips you may be unable to make.
- Do activities you think may keep your body and spirit refreshed and decompressed, and stay active socially.
Seek out support if needed; don’t isolate yourself.
- Join a support group
- Stay in touch with loved ones
- Seek individual counseling or therapy if your grief is overwhelming or persistent.
- See a doctor if any unusual symptoms occur.
- Talk with caring family and friends, and don’t hold back from expressing your feelings.
Honor your loss.
- If you find reminiscing about who or what you lost helpful, make a memory book, donate money to the person’s favorite cause, or talk about your memories with loved ones.
- If recalling them is painful, be aware of your triggers (holidays, anniversaries, others’ losses or deaths) in advance.
- If you find yourself dwelling constantly on negative emotions about the loss, such as guilt, anger, or depression, seek the company of loved ones, or professional help, and express these feelings.
If you think you may need professional help, or aren’t sure where to start looking, Iona’s Information & Referral line is a great place to start – call (202) 895-9448 and ask for the Helpline. Iona also offers mental health counseling, which you can ask for more information about via the helpline as well.
By Indy Weinstein.
Indy Weinstein is an intern at Iona working to support our Take Charge/Age Well Academy, LGBTQ outreach, and other projects. They graduated from St. Mary’s College of Maryland in 2017 with a BA in History, and are excited to learn about nonprofit management and aging.