I usually have guest posts about grief and loss at my Writing the Heartache Blog, but wanted to share this piece on this blog today.
How to Cope With the Loss of a Child
Losing a child is just about any parent's worst nightmare. Unfortunately, I experienced this nightmare nine years ago. My son died unexpectedly, which made losing him even harder. Losing a child was the hardest thing I have ever gone through, and to this day I still struggle with the loss of my son. Luckily, I have a strong support group of friends and family, and over time, the pain has subsided considerably. Here are five ways that I was able to cope with the loss of my child, and hopefully they are as beneficial to you as they were to me.
I leaned heavily on my family and friends for years after my son died. I luckily, did not suffer from depression, and I think having such an outpouring support group helped tremendously. For the first month, my friends stayed over at my house, to keep my mind occupied and from going crazy. As painful as it was, I became closer to a lot of my family and friends after my sons death.
I will admit that in the first few months, I let my physical health suffer. I would advise anyone grieving over the loss of a loved one to avoid this mistake. I ate so poorly that my physical health was obviously deteriorating to anyone I came in contact with. This caused a further deterioration of my mental health, as I had no energy and it was as though I was trying to "feed" my depression (ironically). After the first few
months, I made sure to take walks on a daily basis and continue eating a healthy diet. Remember that poor physical health will affect all facets of anyone's life.
Anyone who is grieving finds it difficult to stay busy - this is okay. After the initial month, I made it a point to stay as busy as possible. I started going back to the gym and even took a weekend trip to Las Vegas at the urging of my friends (after a few months). Grieving is natural, but when I started getting busy, I felt my mind clear up and a sense of normalcy returning.
*Tried & True*
I was lucky enough to find a wonderful support group for people who have experienced loss, and it was immensely helpful. I initially found message boards online where I communicated with other people who were also grieving. Eventually, I got up the nerve go visit to a local support group, where I was able to feel liberated when discussing my problems with people in the same situation. I am not religious, but a couple of people in the group found solace in their local church groups. When I found support, I
felt as though I was able to grieve and not be judged.
On the recommendation of a friend, I obtained professional counseling. This helped me find happiness and meaning in other areas of my life. Although I did not take any medication for anxiety or sleep, my therapist did teach me some relaxation and breathing techniques. One on one counselling was tremendously helpful in my recovery, and I would recommend it to anyone who is grieving.
When I lost my son, my whole prospective on life changed. It took a couple of years for me to regain a sense of normalcy in my life. Remember, when grieving, do not be afraid to ask for help from family and friends. Without a support group, the process would have been more difficult. Though, I cannot say I feel perfect, life has improved as I have learned to cope.
Peter Rhimes is a contributing author at http://www.homeownersinsurance.org.