Ways of Dealing with the Loss of a Loved One

- | 60 Aha! comments | Posted in category: Life & Philosophy

two girls sitting near a grave mourning the loss of a loved one

Loss of a loved one in your life is agreeably the most difficult and traumatic experience.

When you lose a loved one, you tend to sulk deep into the dungeons of darkness, and the colors of life fade away.

The loss of a loved one makes life so meaningless, and the world suddenly seems to be so barren.

Losing a loved one might even bring your life to a halt or make it disoriented.

Some of you must’ve gone through it, while others will go through this sad phase in life sometime or the other.

That’s because death is something that will come to all of us, it’s just a matter of time.

I’m sorry if I’ve invoked some sad feelings in your heart or brought up some bad memories. I’ve dealt with losing a loved one when I lost my Mom a few years back, so I can relate to it.

But today, I want you to share your experiences to help those who haven’t faced loss of a loved one in their life yet, or aren’t able to get over it.

I want you to tell them how you think one should deal with death in the most sensible manner.

I understand your feeling that there’s no sensible way to deal with the loss of a loved one. But it makes sense to deal with such situation and carry on with life.

Death is a very sensitive topic, which we often avoid.

Most of us are even scared to talk or read about death. I know of people who treat it as a bad omen to even think of death of their loved ones.

However, no matter how much we pretend to forget and avoid the topic, the fact remains that death is a part of life, and we should try to understand it better.

“Although it’s difficult today to see beyond the sorrow, may looking back in memory help comfort you tomorrow.” ~Author Unknown

Understanding Death

For most of us, death is the villain. It ruthlessly brings to an end a beautiful life that you’re living, mostly at inappropriate times.

Aren’t you are faced with the question why do people have to die? Or why is it that only your loved ones die, while so many others remain alive.

I heard this question from a few grownups , and even from my kids.

I told them that anything that comes “in” has to go “out”, any person that “enters” needs to “exit”. Not clear?

Every event that starts comes to an end. Everything that takes birth has to die. Be it stories, movies, plants, insects, fish, animals, or even humans.

Death is a certainty or an event that is going to happen in everyone’s life for sure. No one has control over it, and death makes no distinction between your foes or friends.

I’m sorry if I scared you, but facing the truths of life will help you to live your life meaningfully. You need to face the fear to make your life easy.

Different Views on Death

There are so many different views on death and dealing with the loss of a loved one. Let me share a few of them with you.

  • Those who believe in rebirths, think of death as the opportunity to continue life in some other form or live in some other world.
  • Spiritual thinkers strongly hold the view that you’re a spiritual being having a human experience, and death is just like going back home.
  • Ones who’ve faith in God reason that death is the opportunity to be with Him.
  • People who believe in karma consider death as the crucial time to receive rewards or punishments as per how you live your life.
  • Some ancient civilizations and religions suggest that there’s life after death, and the story or movie doesn’t end at death. The body dies but the soul or spirit lives on.
  • The soul remains connected with you and your negative reactions impact it in a negative way. So you should not mourn death, but pray for your loved ones to have a good journey ahead!

However, whether there’s life after death or not, loss of a loved one is a reason to remember the positive aspects of the person and the life lived by the person.

And, death is a time to reflect upon on life in general.

“For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.”  ~ Khalil Gibran

Why the Loss of a Loved One is Tough to Handle

When your loved one departs, all that you’re left with are the memories of the person. Most of the times, you might find it difficult to handle these memories.

Incidents, events, things, and people revive these memories and you tend to feel sad about the loss. You miss the person, and with time such memories become associated with sadness and pain.

This happens more so in cases when the loss of a loved one is unexpected and tragic. Your heart and mind isn’t ready and willing to accept this unfortunate event of life.

You tend to not understand the loss and keep blaming yourself, others, or the circumstances and find it difficult to come to terms with it. It seems so unjust and cruel.

You then harbor such painful thoughts and feelings for long periods and are unable to cope up with, or move forward in life.

This is why you need to take steps to learn about dealing with the stress of loss of a loved one with the help of some coping mechanisms.

“Love’s over brimming mystery joins death and life. It has filled my cup of pain with joy.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore

life meets death

Coping with the Loss of a Loved One

Your loved one could be a family member, a friend, a colleague, someone in the neighborhood, or even your pet. They can be your parents, siblings, children, or your spouse.

Loss of a loved one requires you to go through phases of grief to cope with your emotional upheaval and mental disturbance.

Though the coping process varies from person to person, here are some practical steps that you need to take when your loved one dies.

1. Accepting the death of a loved one – It is said in the ancient Indian scriptures that the place, time, and manner of your death is fixed the moment you take birth.

Even if it’s not, death is an event that cannot be changed and you’ve no option but to accept it. Death sometimes happens due to reasons beyond your understanding. Nevertheless, you need to accept it.

I had a tough time accepting my Mom’s death, even though I know she had cancer and her end was destined. But you tend to fight against all odds, and never want to lose hope. You keep trying right till the end!

People, who go in the denial mode, suffer more. Sometimes, denial is a part of the initial shock that the person receives on getting to know about the loss of a loved one.

There are all sorts of weird feelings you may come across and experience. Know that it is normal and common with all. Don’t be alarmed, just go through the process.

Acceptance does come gradually, and you need to give it time. Sometimes all understanding and logic fail when we are faced with an expected loss of a loved one.

But no matter how unreasonable the death of your dear one appears to you, you need to actively deal with the grief and accept the pain.

“We love our dear ones deeply and miss them when they leave us. But we know that the bond of love is greater than death.” ~ Harold Klemp

2. Embrace the change in your life – Your life may not function as normally as it used to before the loss of your loved one.

It is natural to experience a change in your lifestyle or daily routine in such cases. It is okay to feel what you’re feeling and try to find a reason for the change.

Life has its mysterious ways, the best you can do is to flow with it and experience the changes it puts you in.

The changes in your life may also depend on your relation and intimacy with the deceased, and whether he or she was a part or partner in your daily routine.

Initially, you may need to change your habits that involved your loved one so as to avoid the disturbing thoughts and feelings that remind you of them.

However, you cannot and should not completely avoid the pain that come with the loss of a loved one.

“We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.”  ~Kenji Miyazawa

3. Experience and express the grief – Loss of your loved one might be accompanied with some pain. Don’t try to always avoid it, but face it directly and experience it.

You might undergo a range of emotions including some that make you feel bad, to some that make you sad. You need to open yourself to them.

It is important that you express or share your emotions and let them flow free to get out of your system.

Don’t suppress these feelings as they then tend to get negative and turn into regrets, or make you feel worse.

The process of releasing this negative energy is also known as mourning. Crying is the easiest and quickest way to release your grief, though you may have your own way to express your grief.

You can also express your sad feelings by preparing a photo album, writing a diary or blog, making a painting, or letting it out by listening or playing music.

Societies and communities have rituals and traditions that help the family and friends provide support and strength to the bereaved family to pass through this phase of grief.

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” ~ Thomas Campbell

4. Move on with life – The grieving period, the duration of which may be of a few days, weeks, months, or even years, needs to end.

However, if you feel you’re not able to cope with the loss of your loved one, you should confide in your spiritual leader or seek professional help.

Spiritual views and meditation do help and let you try to understand the underlying reasons and principles of life.

After a few days of mourning, it is okay to indulge in activities like going out with a friend, or even watching a movie without feeling guilty about it.

Socialization helps you to move forward and get on with life and you should avoid living in isolation for long periods.

These are stress buster activities that help you normalize after the numbness that you experience during grieving.

Remember that you’ve your own life to live, responsibilities and liabilities to carry out, so you need to take charge of yourself.

You’ll feel good if you talk and share the positive contributions of your loved one. You can even have special occasions and get-together in memory of your dear one as opportunities for healing.

Things may not be the same, and a loss is after all a loss. However, you need to learn to live without your loved one. The show goes on, life moves on. That’s how it is.

Bear in mind that your loved one would never have wanted you to suffer. Instead, he or she would’ve loved to see you live your life to the fullest. Do that for the sake of your loved one.

There will be times when you’ll come across things, events, and people that will remind you of the loss of a loved one. Treat them as blessed memories and don’t taint them with negativity.

Create a healthy attitude, and whenever you’re reminded of your loved one, honor the person with your love and respect. Be positive and cherish the memories of the good old times you had together.

Take the lessons and teaching from the life of your loved ones, and make them a part of your life.

“He who has gone, so we but cherish his memory, abides with us, more potent, nay, more present than the living man.” ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

There are various ways of coping with the grief that result from the death of a loved one. Along with those you also need to take care of yourself and avoid all forms of negativity.

Never resort to negative options like getting violent, hurting others or self-inflicting pain, giving in to alcohol or drugs. These only make the situation complicated and worse.

Imagine if it were you who died, you would never want your loved ones to spend the rest of their life crying or grieving over you – isn’t it?

Instead, loss of a loved one teaches you to appreciate life, to treasure and cherish the moments, and not take life for granted.

Gradually with time you’ll come to terms with life without your loved one. You’ll still harbor the old memories but they’ll not be painful ones.

Understanding death will make you understand your life better. You’ll realize that death is just an event and you should not let it eclipse the beautiful relationship you had with your loved one.

“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.” ~ Norman Cousins

Over to you –

What are your views about death? Did the loss of a loved one ever trouble you? What practical ways would you suggest for dealing with the loss of a loved one? Share in the comment below.


Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos, AlicePopkorn

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60 Comments - Read and share thoughts

  1. Lorraine Reguly

    2016-05-13 at 11:11 am

    Keiko, I am speechless. Your experience moved me to tears.

    My parents are aging and I know death is inevitable.

    I went through the loss of all of my grandparents, but know that when my mom dies, I will be crushed.

    I am so sorry for your loss and am glad you were able to accept your dad’s death so well.


  2. Keith

    2013-10-28 at 3:06 pm

    Hi Harleena,

    There will be so many similarities in how each of us deals with death, but also so many individual factors. We can only find our own way. What is important is that each of us does deal with it, as hard as that may be.

    What stood out for me most in your sensitively written post was “I understand your feeling that there’s no sensible way to deal with the loss of a loved one. But it makes sense to deal with such situation and carry on with life”.

    If anything, death reminds us of the value of life. When my Dad passed away last year he left me with so many important messages about living life and the importance of this. Not because he said anything, but because his death gave me cause to reflect and a reminder to me to live, truly live.

    It is a taboo subject for many, but I feel it is something that we should discuss more in the open. We can’t hide from it as it affects us all at some point in our lives – no exceptions.

    Thanks for a heartfelt, thought-provoking and respectful post.

  3. Mariem

    2013-04-24 at 3:48 am

    Awesome article !

    Thanks for sharing 🙂 😉

  4. Joy Healey

    2013-04-08 at 7:04 am

    Thanks for a very comforting post Harleena.

    I lost my partner a few months ago to cancer, and though we SHOULD have been prepared, we weren’t, so I’m finding it very hard to cope.There are silly things like redefining who I am. With another couple of friends John and I were a foursome. Now he’s not there and it’s as if I don’t really belong any more – although my two friends are being very kind.

    Your thoughts have been helpful and comforting to me. Thanks.Joy

  5. B K chowla

    2013-04-07 at 12:32 pm

    Those who lose their loved ones are the only ones who feel the pain. What is most surprising is that the first question they ask “How old was he” and make a face depending upon the age of the one, one has lost.

    Damn it, we all will age.

  6. Dita - BloggingSpree

    2013-04-07 at 5:04 am

    Hi Harleena,

    Losing a loved one is always very hard and sad as well. I’ve lost both my parents in 2011 and despite the fact that they were older still, it seemed so unfair. I miss them every day.

    Time heals, however, and eventually the pain weakens. We still think about them, but the overwhelming sadness is gone. The thought are different, more like just beautiful memories. I know this from first hand experience.

    Thanks for sharing this post with us.


  7. Ankit

    2013-04-06 at 10:46 am

    I am yet wondering that I’ve read article. I was amazed by the quality of writing of this one. You rock.

  8. Susan Ekins

    2013-04-06 at 5:06 am

    Harleena, thanks for posting about a difficult subject. My Mom passed away a year ago and I was surprised at how hard it was for me. It would have been even more difficult if I had regrets. I am thankful that at least I had said certain things like “I love you,” and “I’m sorry.” We never know when we will lose someone so it’s best to say such things.
    At holidays and family get-togethers, there’s no one of the generation above me. My husband’s parents and mine are all gone.

  9. Koj T. Tajo

    2013-04-06 at 2:46 am

    Hey Harleena, Great piece! You dont have to be sorry when you write this kind of post. Its been 10 years now, when our mom left us and we were regarded as an orphan. Tears ……while commenting. But hats off for understanding the human behavior so deeply. Wish you all the happiness for this post. Respect is all yours.

  10. Sue Neal

    2013-04-05 at 11:35 pm

    Hi Harleena,

    As always, you’ve offered sound advice in this post.

    I’ve experienced a lot of close bereavements, all of them difficult and two were particularly traumatic sudden deaths. I think the first thing I’d say is it’s always a shock – nothing can prepare you for it, even if you’re expecting someone to die. In the aftermath of a bereavement, people often talk about the fact that it ‘puts everything into perspective’ and imagine it’s going to make them appreciate life all the more and transform them into better people, but in my experience that soon fades and we quickly revert to our old selfish ways – so when the next person dies, chances are there’ll still be lots of ‘if only’ regrets for us to come to terms with, because we’re human and fallible.

    I think the best way to deal with death is to be prepared for it – to think about it, talk about it, stare it in the face, recognise that we really aren’t immortal and that we’re all going to die someday. Reflecting on our own death is a really healthy thing to do – also on the death of those close to us. It may sound morbid, but I really do believe it helps to be realistic and face up to that reality. It’ll still be a shock when it happens, but maybe we’ll be a little better equipped to deal with it.

    I read a great blog post recently that talked about treating everyone we meet as if they didn’t have very long to live – I think that’s a lovely idea. We take each other for granted and that’s why we often struggle when someone dies – all those things we wish we had or hadn’t done or said.

    If you are plagued by those kind of regrets, I’d say you’ve got to forgive yourself and move on – sinking into despair and self-recrimination won’t help the person who’s died and it will make life a misery, not just for you but for those close to you who have to deal with your depression.

    I’d also say that death teaches you not to base your happiness on other people – there’s always the chance you’ll lose someone, so don’t bank on them being around forever. You need to find other sources of joy and meaning in your life. It saddens me when I hear about people who’ve been bereaved spending the rest of their lives grieving – what a waste of life.

    Sorry if that’s a bit of a ramble – a subject close to my heart 🙂


  11. Tim Bonner

    2013-04-05 at 3:41 pm

    Hi Harleena

    My father-in-law passed away a couple of years ago and I know it really affected my wife.

    She’s very strong though and didn’t really show it on the outside. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing though.

    We do talk about him and her loss and I know when it comes around to his birthday, it brings everything back to her again.

    I’m lucky in that both my parents are relatively young. I have no idea how I will cope when they pass away.

    Hopefully I will be okay but I’m sure it will come as a big shock to the system.

  12. Adrienne

    2013-04-05 at 7:15 am

    I am the worse person to give advice on this subject Harleena because you know from what I’ve shared with you I did not take my Dad’s passing very well and went into a deep depression for about two years. Not a good time for me at all but so glad that’s way behind me.

    Unfortunately, I lost a loved one just yesterday. My brother’s mother-in-law passed away unexpectedly. Of course she had Alzheimer’s and was in a nursing home but she’d only been there about three years now. She was only 76 and not ill so to get that call was very shocking for us all. My nephew, of course, is off working on the cruise ship so they had to track him down and he’ll be flying in this Saturday.

    I knew her for over 30 years now so she was part of the family. It’s just a very sad time for everyone but we know that she’s in a much better place because she hated living like that. Six of her brother’s and sisters had the same disease and she use to tell us she did not want to live like that. I can’t even imagine so I’m so sad she’s gone but she’s really been gone for awhile now. She hasn’t known any of us for the past two years.

    Great post on this subject Harleena and I’m sure it will be very helpful for many who have to deal with this as well. It’s just inevitable unfortunately. It’s part of life.


  13. Debbie

    2013-04-05 at 2:28 am

    Hi Harleena. You did hit a topic that is part of living. You live, pay taxes and die.

    I have lost parents, a sister, all aunts and uncles, classmate when I was 14, friends as a teen, but that is ok, I shall see them again one day.

    Yes, i miss the people I have mentioned, but there memory lives on in my heart. The only problem I had when my mother died, is that as she got sicker maybe I should have done things different. After awhile I realized I did the best that i could.

    My faith does get me through these time. Great dicussion going one Harleena.


  14. Hajra

    2013-04-04 at 11:37 pm

    I lost a friend when a few years back and it took some time to get over it. For me, time is the biggest healer. I know its cliche but I have experienced that you learn to deal with it over time. That’s how it worked for me at least. 🙂

  15. Ashley Porter

    2013-04-04 at 7:55 pm

    Harleena – this is an interesting topic you write about.

    Death is inevitable part of life and there are so many feelings surrounding it (especially when we experience it through a close friend or loved one passing away). Some may experience it first hand with terminal illness and have negative emotions on approaching end of their life.

    I do think your tips will help especially getting support and continuing to enjoy the time that we do have to live despite the negative feelings of death.

    Death, dying, end of life doesn’t necessarily have to have only negative emotions associated with it. It can be a time of remembrance, reflection of life, and journey to heaven/afterlife.

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Ways of Dealing with the Loss of a Loved One

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