• Losing a loved one is nothing short of devastating, but there is a lot of good to focus on during this time, which can help you come to terms with the loss.
  • First, take this opportunity to learn a greater compassion for others (and thyself)—recognize their struggles, and also observe how one can come out stronger, more resilient post-struggle.
  • Also, understand that your degree of grief is a direct reflection of your love for the person you’ve lost—honor your relationship and smile upon all of the good they’ve brought you.
  • This is also the perfect opportunity to focus on gratitude: remember the influence your loved one had on your life and be thankful for the memories you shared with them.
  • Finally, truly appreciate and live your life again; as you never know when your last day will be, so you have to make every single moment count.

As a Clinical Psychologist who often works with people suffering the loss of a loved one, I have seen that one of the most important things to learn from such a loss is compassion—for self and for others who have gone through or are going through their own mourning process. So often people think they and/or others are supposed to just “snap out of it” after the funeral or after a few weeks or whatever timeframe each person thinks is “right,” “normal,” or “strong”.‎ But we can learn the fact that being strong as a human is actually about the ability to go through a very difficult time, sometimes over what feels like an eternity, and come out on the other side more resilient, more peaceful, and more understanding of ourselves and others.

It is also very important for people to understand that the degree of grief they are experiencing is usually directly proportionate to the degree of love felt for and the importance of the departed one in our lives. During this time (and beyond), if we open ourselves, we can come to see the many positive, loving contributions the person made in our life. And we can embrace that understanding with not only sadness, but with gratitude, for those contributions.

Focusing on the gratitude helps to alleviate the emotional pain of loss over time as we realize that in terms of their influence on our lives, they will always be with us. Many people, when they begin to embrace the gratitude, also begin to feel the energy of the departed one continuing to surround them with love and support. Whatever one believes about the afterlife, those feelings of love and support in the mourning person(s) are very real.

We can also learn that every moment of our life matters as we never know for sure how much longer we have in this existence. This realization can motivate us to choose to live a life of positivity, fulfillment, and appreciation for still being alive. It can also motivate us to search for and commit ourselves to higher meaning in our lives.

There is a phenomenon referred to in psychological literature as “posttraumatic growth” or “benefit finding” in the wake of tragedy, which in numerous studies has been associated with decreased sadness, enhanced quality of life, and even positive bodily/physiological changes. The definition of such a “benefit” is different for each person. We can access it by asking ourselves, “What is it that I am supposed to learn or take from this experience? How am I supposed to use it for my greater good?” and eventually, it will be revealed.

*Roselyn Smith PhD, is a licensed psychologist, hypnotherapist, critical incident mental health care and stress management specialist, and trainer/keynote speaker.*