By Lucille Rosetti, TheBereaved.org, Guest Blogger
There is nothing easy about losing a loved one. Whether it’s your mom, brother, best friend, or spouse, death creates a void that is never fully filled. However, you can learn to live with your grief and even turn it into something that benefits your family or community while honoring the memory of the one you held near and dear.
Before you can turn your grief into something positive, you must first learn to soothe your grief and lingering sense of loss. Here are a few ways to manage the pain:
- Invest in a pet. You might not fully understand it, but if you’ve ever settled down with a dog by your side, you know how snuggling with a pup can turn a bad day into a relaxing night. Dogs, according to Rover.com’s canine experts, can help ease depression in a number of ways. Spending time with a beloved pet can released oxytocin, a chemical in the brain that can, with time, help us overcome feelings of hopelessness.
- Write a letter. Writing a letter to a lost loved one or keeping a journal chronicling your emotional struggles to accept the loss can be a good thing. Harvard University explains that writing your feelings down can help you truly let go of negative emotions. Writing can also help you come to grips with any unspoken anger you hold toward your loved one for dying. This is especially true if he or she passed away due to suicide, an accident caused by recklessness, or as the result of a drug overdose. Likewise, talking about your feelings can help you manage the negative emotions that you’re holding onto. A friend, therapist, or spiritual leader all make great listeners.
- Celebrate events “together.” Believe it or not, you can include loved ones in celebrations even once they have passed on. It might feel a little strange at first, but having a birthday party for the deceased is a great way to celebrate their life and keep their memory alive. If you have young children, this is one way you can teach them about a deceased parent or grandparent while honoring his or her memory.
It takes time, and no two people heal the same way. But when you are ready, you can turn your sadness into something meaningful that will keep your loved one’s memory alive well beyond death. While your friend or family member had unique interests, these ideas can help you formulate your own memorial:
- Plant a tree. Planting a tree at home or in a public garden is a growing memorial that will benefit the community.
- Start a scholarship. If your loved one was a nurse, for example, offer a small scholarship to local high school students to help pay for their first year of books at college.
- Support their school. Sadly, when a child dies, classmates are also left with a gap in their lives. Help fill this by donating a bench, play equipment, or computer equipment in honor of a deceased child.
- Complete their bucket list. Your loved one might have never had a chance to see the Northern Lights, but you can, and you can use that trip to celebrate his or her life.
- Give to a cause. Diseases like cancer take far too many lives each day. Make a memorial contribution to the American Cancer Society or other organization related to your family member’s demise.
Moving past grief is not the same thing as forgetting the person you’ve lost. You will never do that. But by coping with the negative emotions and turning them into something positive, you can move forward and learn to live your life without fixating on the past.