Memorial Day: Celebrating the Lives of the Loved Ones We’ve Lost
Memorial Day is just around the corner. While many of us may think of it as a three day holiday weekend, others may consider it to be a tough day if they have lost someone who was a soldier. Memorial Day might also be a trigger for people who have lost individuals in their lives that may not have been a soldier, but were simply just a close friend or family member.
Everyone goes through different stages of grief. As psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross describes, there are the five different stages of grief that are fluid and have no particular order: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Grieving the loss of a loved one has no set time frame and can vary from person to person. While there is no “right” or “wrong” way to grieve, below is a simple list of useful coping strategies for grieving.
- Mourn the loss. Allow yourself to have a time and space to feel sad about losing someone that was important to you. Again, there is no timeline for how long you should feel sad. Remind yourself that it is okay not to feel or be okay.
- Journal about it. If you are having a hard time talking to a trusted friend or family member about the loss of your loved one, it might help to journal your feelings, whatever your feelings may be.
- Celebrate their life. When you feel ready, attempt to shift your focus from mourning the loss of your loved one to focusing on celebrating the life of your loved one. This could even be just sharing positive memories about them.
- Celebrate your life. Life can be unexpected and throw curveballs at you that you did not want or expect. Thinking about the individual that you lost, ask yourself: would they want you to live the rest of your life feeling sad, or living the rest your life to the fullest potential?
- Meditate/do deep breathing exercises. Not only can grief be felt emotionally, but it can also be felt physically such as tense feelings in your neck and chest, or sweaty hands. When feeling this way, try to attempt meditation with some essential oils and deep breathing exercises as that could relieve some of the physical toll grief is taking on your body.
- Write a letter. Some days may be harder than others during the grieving period. It may be cathartic to write a letter to your loved one, which could help you feel spiritually connected to them.
- Know that comparison can cause suffering. Remind yourself that if your friends or family are “done showing their grief,” it is okay that you are still grieving. Comparing how you are experiencing grief to how others are experiencing grief can only cause you to suffer more with the loss.
- Go on an adventure. Sometimes during a grieving period, it can be helpful to go somewhere new and put yourself in an environment you haven’t been in before. Experience the world the way you think your loved one would want you to and try new things!
Grieving can be incredibly challenging. While this list provides a variety of approaches on how to cope with grief, try to focus on the one(s) that you think will allow you to cope in the most effective way.
If you are currently struggling with coping with the loss of a loved one in your life, it may be a good idea to connect with one of our skilled counselors at Symmetry Counseling today. You can contact them at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment.
Written by Kara Thompson-Miller, Licensed Clinical Social Worker: January 2023 “Why is it so hard to like my body?”: A unassumingly complex question that has been asked by many clients in many different variations, but one that, nonetheless, tends…Read More
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