Coping with the loss of a loved one

By Bonney Elliott on May 5 / 2017

[Cancer, Cancer Coaching]Comments

Dealing with the loss of a loved one is incredibly difficult. Below are some things to keep in mind when someone you care about is grieving:

Grief can be overwhelming. On top of the intense roller coaster of emotions that come with loss, there are so many practical arrangements to be made and tasks to be done. Instead of well-meaning but vague offers of “Let me know if there is anything I can do”, be concrete: “I’m free this Saturday and I’d like to help you with yardwork for a couple of hours”.

Grieving can be lonely.  Once the formal rituals of mourning are over, the people closest to the person who died may feel quite alone. Their social circle may have shrunk in the months of caring for their loved one. Reach out regularly to let them know you care. They may also find solace, connection, and practical tools for grieving through a bereavement group such as the Next Steps group here at the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation.

Grief can be exhausting.  They may have less time and energy for the activities you usually share. They may be more receptive to an invitation to meet up in their neighbourhood for coffee and a walk in the sunshine than facing a big social event.

Grief tends to come in waves.  After the initial tsunami of loss, the waves that follow usually soften in intensity, but sometimes they roll in at unexpected times. Don’t be surprised or alarmed if their tears start to flow while you are watching a movie together, visiting a particular place or seemingly out of the blue. Simply be there for them.

Grief can be physical. Bereaved caregivers often get sick or experience flare ups of chronic conditions like arthritis or asthma. Encourage them to take time for themselves and to connect with the supports they need. As an alternative to flowers, consider nurturing gifts like a day at the spa, passes to a yoga class, or that homemade soup they like.

Grieving is a lifelong process. Avoid the temptation to cheer them up or hurry them to “move on”. The veil of grief will lift in its own due course.  Be there when you can to share memories of their departed loved one, particularly around holidays and anniversaries, and future life events such as weddings and graduations.

If you, or someone you care about is struggling with the loss of a loved one – Cancer Coaching may be able to help.  You can find out more about Cancer Coaching and register by clicking here

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