Loss of a Loved One

| Planning for Myself or a Loved One

femme aînée, regarder photographie en noir et blanc d'un homme senior

Coping strategies after the loss of a loved one

The death of a parent or spouse can be overwhelming and it may feel as if your life has come to a standstill. If you have been a caregiver, it may be met with mixed emotions which are normal. You may be relieved that your parent or partner is no longer suffering but equally overwhelmed with a sense of loss. You may also feel guilt over feeling released from your caregiver role.

This major shift in lifestyle can make it easy for you to lose sight of your own health and wellness. As a caregiver, your days and nights may suddenly be quiet. Too quiet. It can be an adjustment that takes some time before you arrive at what will be your ‘new’ normal. Life will be different.

Coping strategies after the loss of a loved one

Here are some coping strategies from the Canadian Mental Health Association and, if needed, recommended next steps for further support:

  • Connect with caring and supportive people. This might include loved ones, neighbours, and co-workers. It could also include a bereavement support group or community organization.
  • Give yourself enough time. Everyone reacts differently to a loss and there is no normal grieving period.
  • Let yourself feel sadness, anger, or whatever you need to feel. Find healthy ways to share your feelings and express yourself, such as talking with friends or writing in a journal.
  • Recognize that your life has changed. You may feel less engaged with work or relationships for some time. This is a natural part of loss and grief.
  • Reach out for help. Loved ones may want to give you privacy and may not feel comfortable asking you how you’re doing, so don’t be afraid to ask for their support.
  • Holidays and other important days can be very hard. It may be helpful to plan ahead and think about new traditions or celebrations that support healing.
  • Take care of your physical health. Be aware of any physical signs of stress or illness, and speak with your doctor if you feel that your grief is affecting your health.
  • Stay active, make plans with friends and family, be mindful of your own health maintenance and appointments, accept help from others, recognize your capabilities and set goals accordingly.
  • Offer support to other loved ones who are grieving. Reaching out to others may be helpful in your own journey.
  • Be honest with young people about what has happened and about how you feel, and encourage them to share their feelings, too.
  • Work through difficult feelings like bitterness and blame. These feelings can make it harder to move forward in your life.
  • Make a new beginning. As the feelings of grief become less intense, return to interests and activities you may have dropped and think about trying something new.
  • Think about waiting before making major life decisions. You may feel differently as your feelings of grief lose their intensity, and the changes may add to the stress you’re already experiencing.

How can I help a loved one through their grief?

Perhaps your loved one is experiencing loss at the same time as you. Be supportive of them but also recognize your own stages of grief.

Here are some tips from the Canadian Mental Health Association on how to support your loved one:

Understand that a loved one needs to follow their own journey in their own way and express their feelings in their own way.

  • Ask your loved one what they need, and regularly remind them that you’re there for support if they aren’t ready to talk with others yet. Remember to offer practical help, too.
  • Talk about the loss. It’s common to avoid the topic and focus on a loved one’s feelings instead, but many people find sharing thoughts, memories, and stories helpful or comforting.
  • Remember that grief may be bigger than the loss. For example, someone who loses a partner may also experience a lot of fear or stress around financial security and other important matters.
  • Include your loved one in social activities. Even if they often decline, it’s important to show that they are still an important member of your community.
  • Help your loved one connect with support services if they experience a lot of difficulties.
  • Take care of your own well-being and seek extra help for yourself if you need it.

Other resources

It is important to recognize healthy coping mechanisms include a balanced diet, rest, exercise and socialization. You may also find comfort is joining a bereavement group to get support from other people who are at different stages of having experienced loss. Contact your local funeral home for referrals to bereavement groups in your area. Or call the local Canadian Mental Health Association office for additional referrals. Reach out to friends and family and, if necessary, ask your health care practitioner for a referral if you are feeling overwhelmed.

You can also reach out for home health care providers. If you find that you could use additional support, even temporarily, you may want to explore home care options from trusted providers. Here are a list of questions to take into consideration when searching for a home care provider.

And we can save you even further investigative effort by letting you know that Bayshore Home Health answers ‘yes’ to all of these questions! We offer a range of home care services that can assist you in getting through challenging times: personal care, companionship, meal preparation, medication reminder and housekeeping.

Prior to booking service with Bayshore, you will receive a free in-home consultation to access immediate needs, gather an understanding of your current health situation, and assess any possible risks in the home to ensure our home care services can be conducted in a safe manner.

Contact a Client Service Representative at 1-877-289-3997 or email clientservice@bayshore.ca to book your free consultation.