How do you manage to start healing when you lose someone you love suddenly? 

Boston Marathon, Mental health challenges, Illness, Accidents, and many more events have caused people to leave this earth without warning.  As the person now living without your loved one, you may be left with many questions and a range of emotions. How do you begin to handle it all?  First, let me tell you right now, there is no specific way to heal from the unexpected lose of a loved one.  No text book solution that shows you how it is suppose to be done.  Some people cry for several days in a row.  Others may go into survival mode and shut out memories, just so they can manage to carry on with life.  You will have to listen to your inner self, allow healing to occur at your own pace, and let yourself be supported in the process.

While there is no textbook way to heal, there are things to consider during the healing process:

  • You did enough, do not feel guilty.  “Maybe I should have called more”, “I shouldn’t have argued with them before they left”, “I didn’t say I love you that day”, and “Did I do all I could have?” are fine questions to ask but they usually serve a self-criticizing purpose vs. just being self-aware.  You are not all knowing, all seeing, and you cannot be everywhere at one time.  If that were the case, you probably would have prevented it from happening.
  • It is okay to be angry, you are human after all.  Anger is a natural emotion in response to a perceived injustice.  It is perfectly okay to feel this way.
  • Being angry does not mean you don’t love them.  It means you are hurting and/or upset at the actions that took place.
  • If you feel a sense of relief, you are not a bad person.  Sometimes the person who died suddenly carried life challenges that brought on heavy burdens to those who loved them most.  Just because you feel a sense of relief from those burdens, does not mean you are relieved your loved one is gone.
  • Do not allow yourself to be alone for too long.  While it is okay to be alone with your thoughts initially, you do not want to start isolating yourself from the world. 
  • You can still say “goodbye” or “see you again some day” in your own way.  People have funerals, write letters, send off balloons, spread ashes over the ocean, create a memory journal, give parties in their loved ones honor, and many other things.  Do what you feel will honor them, in the way you need to.
  • They don’t have to be forgotten if you don’t want them to be.  As time goes on, some people experience diminished memories of their loved one.  They may notice some aspects of the person are not as clear as they want them to be.  If this is the case, you can start recording those memories via voice recording, written format, art journal, scrapebook, or in another fashion.  That way you keep a record of their life that will never fade away.

by Camille McDaniel, LPC, NCC