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  • Writer's pictureDenise Jittan-Johnson, Clinical Psychologist

Coping with Loss

This week my family and I have been coming to terms with the loss of my grandmother. I am writing this as much for myself as I am for others who are also coping with the loss of a loved one.

Losing a loved one is never easy. No matter how peaceful the passing, how expected the circumstance, the cost of loving someone is dealing with the grief that comes with continuing life without them. People we have lost maintain a presence through our life; living through our memories or as a reflection of who we have become by having them in our lives.

The experience of grief involves a comparison of the present with the contents of our memories.Given our lifelong ability to remember, grief is not something we can just process and get over.

Here are some things to remember if you are coping with the loss of a loved one:

  1. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. We all experience loss and process our emotions differently and at different paces.

  2. Grief is not linear. Instead of a series of stages, we might also think of the grieving process as a roller coaster, full of ups and downs, highs and lows. Like many roller coasters, the ride tends to be rougher in the beginning, the lows may be deeper and longer. The difficult periods should become less intense and shorter as time goes by, but it takes time to work through a loss.

  3. Set aside time to acknowledge and feel your feelings. Immediately after loss, we may be in task mode. It is important to make time to check in with your feelings and be okay with letting them out. Whether that looks like time alone, or conversations with loved ones, be sure to check in with yourself.

  4. You don't have to be strong for anyone.

  5. Feeling your feelings doesn't make you weak.

  6. Renegotiate your priorities by only attending to things that need immediate attention—taking as much off your plate in the beginning of coping with a loss can help alleviate unnecessary distress.

  7. Commemorate their life. You can honour your loss in some way that feels aligned with your beliefs and values.

  8. Talk to a psychologist. If your grief feels like too much to bear, find a mental health professional with experience in grief counseling. An experienced psychologist can help you work through intense emotions and overcome obstacles to your grieving.

In loving memory of Josephine "Pope" Jittan.

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