- When you lose someone close to you, that grief never fully goes away—but you do learn to cope with it over time.
- Several effective coping techniques include talking with loved ones about your pain, remembering all of the good in your life, engaging in your favorite activities, and consulting a grief counselor.
- You’ll never “get over” the loss of your loved one, but the painful feelings you’re experiencing will lessen as you accept the loss.
- While you’re often distracted initially by these painful feelings, there is much to learn from the loss of a loved one—such as just how beautiful life and love are.
You’ve just received the devastating news that your loved one has passed. Your overcrowded, overwhelmed mind feels like it’s racing at 100 miles per hour—in that moment and even several weeks later. Will my grief ever go away? Will I ever get over this loss? When will it get better? You wish more than anything that you had all the answers. Fortunately, Kriss Kevorkian, PhD, MSW, is here to help me speak to these tough questions that are wreaking havoc on your mind and provide you with some comforting answers:
Will my grief ever go away?
“No, but it will lessen as we learn to cope with it,” Kevorkian insists. “People often say that time heals all wounds. It doesn’t heal them, but it gives us the opportunity to learn from them. Either we can learn from these lessons or ignore them and be challenged again and again until we do learn them. Grief teaches us to appreciate what we have and not to take it for granted.”
When you receive the devastating news that your loved one is gone, your natural reaction isn’t to decide, “Hey, it’s okay, this is a learning experience.” Instead, it’s instinctual to feel upset, angry, confused, hurt, hopeless. It often takes a little bit of time to accept this upsetting experience as one to learn from.. and that’s alright. Until then, you can implement a few strategies to start coping with the loss and moving forward from here:
- Share your loss and pain with those close to you. Do you have a close friend or family member you feel comfortable opening up to? Talking about the loss and how you feel about the loss will help you address your feelings rather than avoid them.
- Think about all that you still have; think about all of the good in your life. You are without a doubt in a terribly unfortunate and painful situation, but that doesn’t mean your whole life is bad. Try to remind yourself of all the good that remains.
- Spend time doing some of your favorite things. It might be hard to return to some of your favorite activities at first, but it’s important you continue to spend your time doing what you love: whether that’s running, dancing, painting, knitting, reading, or simply chatting with your friends.
- Consider meeting with a grief counselor. Grief counselors can help you make peace with the loss and move forward with your life. Furthermore, they’ll work to ensure you don’t engage in any unhealthy grieving patterns.
Will I ever get over it?
Let’s start answering this question by rephrasing it: will you ever stop missing your loved one? Will you ever stop wishing that they were still here? The answer is no. You’ll never completely get over the loss of a loved one because, well, you loved them. The fact that the loss is so difficult to accept is proof of this love. Kevorkian further highlights the forever impact of a devastating loss: “People often tell others who are grieving to get over it, but why? Would you get over the loss of someone who has meant the world to you? Why would you even consider such a thing? Kids are often told by their peers to get over it when a loved one dies saying something like, “So, your grandma died. She was old! Get over it!” We never know the relationship this kid had with his/her grandma. They could’ve been super close, so of course they’re not going to get over it.”
That being said, the painful feelings you’re experiencing will lessen as you come to terms with the loss. And the key to helping this process along is really allowing yourself to feel those emotions. I know it isn’t fun to feel angry or upset, and you’d rather avoid it. But doing so will only suppress your emotions and make the grieving process even harder on yourself. So, do yourself a favor and accept the fact that you’re going through something horrible—but that you will get through it.
When will it get better?
When will the pain end? When will I be back to my normal self? As we just discussed, when you lose a loved one you care so immensely about, you just aren’t the same person anymore. You’ve been impacted in a way that will forever change you—but that’s not to say you’re forever changed in a negative way. As Kevorkian explains, there are so many life lessons to learn from loss: one being just how beautiful love is… let alone, life!
“It will get better when you begin to find meaning in the loss and appreciate the relationship you had no matter how long it lasted. When you think about it, life is pretty amazing that we can find someone or something that means so much to us that when that person or thing is no longer here, we feel pain and sorrow because of it,” she explains. “Can you imagine going through life never knowing such tremendous love that would later cause profound grief? We’d live an emotionless life.”