5 Ways to Process the Death of a Family Member


Processing the death of a family member can be very challenging. The grieving process can be very painful. Most people will experience the pain of losing a close family member or a loved one at least once in their lifetime. No one likes to talk about death. However, death is the one inevitable thing and the one appointment that we all must keep.

With the death of a loved one, such as a family member or a spouse you will experience a period of grieving. Mourning is a natural human emotion. We grieve because we are trying to recover from the tragic disappointment of death. The healing process can be short, or it can last for several months. Whether the process of mourning is short or long, the death of losing a family member is an emotional pain that compares to no other.

Grieving Family Loss

Grieving is difficult for everyone, and people express their grief in many different ways. Some people withdraw from the company of others, while others seek to surround themselves with as many people as possible.

They say time heals a broken heart. However, healing only occurs when we come to terms with the substance of our loss. It has been sixteen years since the death of my son but occasionally it is still a painful reality for me. That was a very tough period of my life. I thought I would never be able to move past the tremendous pain.

Five Things You Should Do When Losing A Family Member

No one can lay claim to a right or wrong way to grieve. However, there are some things you can do to help you cope with the pain of losing a family member. Here are five things you should do to help you recover from the painful experience of losing a family member.

1. Open Up

It is important to realize that everyone processes death in different ways. Understand that your loss is your personal journey and no one can truly feel your pain. That is why it is important that you open up. You should not be afraid to talk about your loss. By opening up you allow those around you to offer comfort. Consider joining a support group where you will find other people who can relate to your experience.

Following the death of a family member, you will be flooded with phone calls, emails, letters, and sympathy cards. They are chilling reminders of your grief. Open up only when you are ready to talk about it.

It took several weeks for me to get over the death of my son. For the first two weeks, I was literally unable to function. I quickly learned that by talking about my loss it became easier to cope with emotional pain and stress. I was surprised to learn that many of the people I talked to had similar experiences. Their words of encouragement gave me the strength to face my own reality.

2. Avoid Covering Up

Masking your pain is not the answer. Avoid hiding your feelings as it could lead to destructive behavior like drug addiction or alcoholism. Processing the death of a family member is painful. Therefore, allow yourself to grieve and stay as close to reality as humanly possible. If you drink alcoholic beverages or use narcotic pain medication, now is the time to back off. I was once addicted to crack cocaine. If anything can lead you down the road to addiction, it would be the death of someone close to you.

3. Let Your Emotions Flow

Whenever something hurts, whether it is emotional or physical pain the first thing you want to do is cry. Now is the time to understand that it is alright to cry. Friends can sometimes have a negative effect on your emotional stability. They might tell you to stay strong for your family. But again, no one knows your pain but you.

Losing a family member to death is painful. Trying to appear strong will only cause you to internalize your pain. Sooner or later, all that internal pressure will have to be released. And nobody knows what will happen when it is released. Volcanic eruptions are caused by internal pressure being built up inside the earth over a period of time. No one knows where or when such an eruption might occur.

4. Take Time to Heal

Emotional scars are invisible, but they leave lasting scars that are often more noticeable than physical scars. All things change with time. Allow yourself time to recover from such an inconceivable loss. Never place a limit on how long it takes to heal. Don’t put a timetable on your grieving, and never allow someone to tell you that you are grieving too long. There is no such thing as a typical allocation of time affixed to grieving for your loved one.

5. Cherish Good Memories When Grieving Family Loss

For a very long time after the death of my son, I tortured myself with negative memories of him. In my head, I saw him lying on a hospital bed in agony. When I closed my eyes I didn’t see his big wide smile. I did not hear the familiar sound of his laughter. Caught up in his suffering, I forgot about all of the good times we spent together. Take pleasure in remembering the good times you shared with your family member. Focus on seeing their smile and hearing their laughter. Concentrate on celebrating the life of your family member rather than memorializing their death.

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