Ask the expert: Coping with loss

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I’ve recently lost my partner and I’m struggling to cope with life. How do I take care of myself while I’m grieving?

Our Heart Matters Helpline says:

It can be very difficult. The physical and emotional turmoil of grieving can take many months to settle down. You may be exhausted from sleep deprivation or perhaps you don’t want to get out of bed; both are normal reactions. You might experience loss of appetite or develop a reliance on caffeine and/or alcohol. This is the time to take extra care of yourself, whether it is a nice massage, listening to your favourite music or a walk in the sunshine. You should rest as much as you want and need to.

This is the time to take extra care of yourself

You may experience a raft of emotions: anger, guilt, regret, pain. Sometimes it’s helpful to express these feelings but it can take time to release them. Some people find it helpful to keep a journal. Your grief is unique and some people will find it helpful to seek some professional help, either in a support group or through individual counselling sessions. If symptoms persist, it could be wise to visit your GP and make sure you are OK.

Try to ignore those around you who say it’s time to move on. Recognising you are not the same person and may not return to your ‘old self’ is important. If you’ve lost someone you loved so much, you’ll always grieve for them. It just changes over time. Your goal should be to move forward with less pain and reframe your relationship with your loved one. It might help to share memories with friends and family and to establish some rituals; for example, arrange a family dinner on the anniversary or make a memorial garden or photo album in memory of your loved one.

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