One Year After Losing a Loved One: What Now?
One of the most common myths related to grief and loss is that time heals all wounds. True, the grieving process does take time, but grief happens on it’s own timeline and is completely different from person to person.
While there is no general timeframe for how long it takes to heal, after the first year of grief, family members and friends should ideally be having more good days than bad days. Hopefully, at this point, they have found help and realized they can survive this loss and continue to live happily and healthily despite the fact that the healing process may have been slow and gradual.
Oftentimes, people may find that year two is harder than year one. It is completely normal to continue to mourn the loss of your loved one after the first year of grief and feel as though you have not entirely moved on.
“It is a lot to ask a widow who was married for 63 years to be ‘over’ the death of her husband,” says Jeff O’Dell, a Bereavement Counselor with Crossroads Hospice and Palliative Care. “In fact, we should never ask our bereaved to ‘get over’ a loss.”
Healing isn’t about getting over a loss – rather, it’s about learning to navigate life without your loved one.
Understand how you cope.
After the first year of grief, an individual should be able to reflect on how they’ve healed and coped with grief over the past 12 months. This is a good time to determine what coping skills are helping and what are not.
Be mindful of any toxic relationships or habits you’ve developed that may be interfering with your ability to heal. Make note of what you’ve done to manage and overcome any feelings of loneliness of hopelessness. By doing so, you can determine a plan that can help you cope more effectively.
Set realistic goals.
Remember, healing doesn’t happen overnight, so it’s important to set short and long-term goals so you can eventually continue to live a full and happy life after your loss.
Start small and be patient with yourself. Perhaps you begin with taking a walk around the neighborhood or spending more time with family and friends. Over time, work up to larger goals – like volunteering at a local organization or starting a new hobby.
“In either case, the bereaved are no longer afraid to live life without their loved one and they experience joy again,” Jeff says on setting realistic expectations for yourself.
It is never too late to build a strong and supportive network. Sometimes, grief can cause people to isolate themselves and withdraw from their friends and family members. This behavior, unfortunately, can delay the grieving process significantly.
Whether you choose to spend time with friends, family members, a chaplain, or bereavement counselor, surrounding yourself with people who can help and listen is a crucial step in healing after loss.
Remember that life goes on.
“I like to remind family members that their life is similar to a book. In a book, many chapters have a tragic ending; however, we keep reading because the book is not over. There is life after loss and there are new chapters to be written,” Jeff says.
Most people never feel entirely at peace after losing a loved one, especially if they had a huge role in their lives. Mourning is a natural process, and it’s important to let yourself grieve and acknowledge how much your loved one means to you.
It’s important to remember that death is not something to “get over.” Instead, you should aim to accept your loss and adjust your life for your new reality.
Life does – and will – go on.
If you are interested in learning more about how to heal and cope with the loss of a loved one, connect with our care team by calling or (888) 752-8106 or visiting our website. Grief support and recovery can help you make the necessary steps to move beyond the pain caused by loss.
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