Although loss is an inevitable aspect of life, most people aren't really prepared for it, even when death is predicted by a team of doctors. No matter how you've lost someone, you need to get through it all and find some way to heal yourself back to a normal, productive and healthy life. Here are six ways to get through the initial heartache and traverse the emotional turmoil ahead of you:
1. Throw A Party
Getting together with the friends and family of the deceased, before the formality of a funeral can be a very therapeutic event for everyone. Make sure it's a celebration of the life lost and not an occasion for people to drown their sorrows, by keeping it free from alcohol. Just organize a get-together where people feel the same pain and have the opportunity to discuss their personal memories. You could have this gathering at the home of the deceased, their favorite coffee shop or a home of one of their closest relatives. If anyone is having a hard time with money for flowers, pool your resources at this party so that nobody feels left out during the funeral. Also, if there's anyone living far away who can't afford to travel to the services, consider taking up a collection to help them join you. Pulling together at this time will help you all feel better and be a nice tribute to the deceased.
2. Contact The Funeral Home
Funeral directors witness the most severe emotional breakdowns, and while they're not likely to see anything they haven't seen before, they should know to expect it. If anyone in the funeral party is having a particularly hard time accepting the death and is expected to fall to pieces, let the funeral home know about it. They will pause during the proceedings, offer kind words when needed and may even have some helpful advice, considering all the grieving and extreme emotional reactions they've dealt with over the years. Keeping funeral home personnel in the loop with such sensitive information means they can be part of the solution as events unfold.
3. Decorate The Funeral Home
Most funeral homes not only permit, but encourage family and friends to bring pictures of the deceased, favorite CD's and other personal touches that help everyone face the loss together and remember the deceased fondly. Seeing the things that represent the deceased so closely can help attendees associate the event with the person lost, rather than detach from the reality of it. It's a sad mix of real images and raw emotions, but it means accepting the finality and letting the heart know someone is really gone.
4. Consult A Professional Over The Loss
It's no sign of weakness or inability when you have a hard time getting over losing someone; it's simply a sign of your humanity. Rather than allow the deep sadness to penetrate your being so thoroughly that you may become truly depressed and unable to function at work or in relations, speak with a professional about your feelings. Grief counselors are experts in human healing and many people need that intense direction to navigate the overwhelmingly sad emotions they're overcome with.
5. Create A Support System Following The Funeral
Initiating a chain reaction phone call, where one person starts and the process keeps going until everyone on a list has been called, keeps everyone in touch and reassures some that others, who perhaps are taking the loss harder, are doing alright. Be a part of this telephone tag-team, so you can get to know friends of the deceased better and continue with your own healing process. You might talk to the mom or brother of the deceased, or it could be someone you only met for the first time at the funeral. No matter what, though, this calling system is an effective way to look out for each other, share fond memories and see that everyone is able to move on in life.
6. Immerse Yourself In Some Form Of Art
True art is all about evoking emotions and you can use art to help disperse the intense emotions you feel after losing someone. Even if you're not already an accomplished artist, you can still form shapes with clay or put the words in your heart onto paper. The art need not be gallery-worthy nor even seen by anyone but you; it's simply a means of extracting the heavy feelings inside of you and putting them into some physical form. Art is recognized all over the world as a real and helpful form of therapy, so pour yourself into a painting or learn to sing, play an instrument or dance.
However you choose to heal, make sure you're not alone during the darkest times. Even if you're otherwise a strong, sensible and practical person, these heavy emotions can bear down on you like nothing you've ever known. Reach out, lean on others and let them lean on you. Sooner or later, the pain begins to ease up and a sense of normalcy gives way, but until that breakthrough, make healing a group effort.