Coping Strategies After the Death of a Loved One

Sunrise Senior Living  |  December 10, 2021
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The past several years have been especially tough for people everywhere. The loss of life caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented in modern times. Whether you lost a loved one to COVID-19 or something else, finding healthy ways to cope may be a challenge.

Grief can take a physical and emotional toll. Depending on the closeness of the person you lost, it can be life-changing. But there are steps you can take, including virtual ones, that can help you navigate these difficult days.

The Work of Grieving

First, it’s important to be kind to yourself. Recognize that everyone grieves differently, and no one way is better than another. Previously believed theories about working through stages of grief have been shown to be unsupported and often ineffective.

Comparing your grieving process with how you perceive others to be coping, is never a good idea. What you see as faster progress in another family member might simply be a brave face they put on for others. Here are some strategies that might be useful in finding your way to a place of peace:

  • Discuss your loss with others: Friends and family may be hesitant to bring up your loved one for fear of upsetting you. Many people who are grieving find the opposite to be true. The idea that people are already forgetting your lost loved one because they aren’t spoken of can be traumatic. If you bring up the name of your loved one first, and share your memories and feelings, you’ll likely find those close to you want to talk about the person who passed, too. Honor your loved one’s birthdate and other special milestones you feel are important to remember. This can help everyone to heal and begin to move forward.
  • Accept the idea of uncertainty: Grief can bring about a rollercoaster of emotions. Just when you feel as if you are back on track, something will trigger a memory that brings the pain back again. By mentally accepting the idea that grieving won’t follow a straight line, you’ll be better prepared for the unexpected ups and downs that coping with the death of someone you love causes.
  • Avoid self-isolating: While the COVID-19 pandemic might make you more reluctant to attend public events and gatherings, it’s important not to completely isolate yourself. In addition to putting you at higher risk for depression, there are health issues linked to isolation among seniors. These include heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and obesity. If you are fully vaccinated, spend time with other friends who are fully vaccinated, too. Wear masks if it makes you feel safer. You might also want to take advantage of video chat platforms, such as Zoom or Skype.
  • Practice good self-care: When you are feeling sad and weary, it’s tempting to skip exercising and eat mostly comfort foods that aren’t very good for you. Some people even overindulge in alcohol and other unhealthy habits. While it’s okay to do that on occasion, failing to care for your physical well-being can make you feel worse in the end. Heavy fried foods and sugar treats might be satisfying when you are down, but they can cause spikes in blood sugar that make lethargy worse. Take time to exercise 30 minutes a day and eat a well-balanced diet. This will likely help fight off fatigue and keep you feeling more energetic.

Connect with a Support Group

Another option to consider when you are grieving is to connect with a support group. There are a variety of them from which to choose. Some are designed for parents who’ve lost a child, and others for bereaved spouses, and for those who lost someone in a traumatic accident. Even if your loved one wasn’t a hospice patient, loved ones can still participate in bereavement programs at a local hospice. Some even offer virtual support group meetings for those trying to avoid public gatherings indoors. Then there are organizations, such as The Compassionate Friends, that offer counseling online and through local chapters all across the country.

Consider a Short-Term Stay at a Senior Living Community

If the upcoming holidays are likely to find you celebrating alone for the first time since your loved one’s passing, a short-term stay at a senior living community might be an idea to consider. You’ll enjoy the same services and amenities as long-term residents do, and that includes a rich variety of holiday events and programs. From caroling groups to festive decorating, the holiday season is active and enjoyable at Sunrise Senior Living communities. Call us at (888) 434-4648 to learn more today!


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