Losing a member of your family can be one of the most trying times in your life, not just for you individually but for your family unit as a whole; people process grief differently, and sometimes these different processes don’t offer support to each other. You might discover that the sibling who typically plans and organizes things isn’t of any help with the practical and logistical aspects of dealing with a death in the family. You might find that the hyper-emotional sibling is focused on incredibly practical elements that seem almost heartless given the pain you’re feeling. The following will examine a few things you might want to do to cope with a death in the family.
Let Everyone Grieve As Is Instinctual
Maybe you don’t think playing video games for eighteen hours each day is an appropriate response to the death of a loved one, especially given how much needs to be done, but maybe you’re not seeing the supportive conversations being had via headsets with friends halfway around the world at 2 am. You might not think that the sibling who is bubbly and cracking jokes as they saunter around the house is being respectful of everyone else’s sorrow, but perhaps they’re not ready to dive into their own feelings and need to play the jolly role for a few days. Respect however the people around you choose to grieve. Grief is a complicated thing that takes many counter-intuitive forms, but it is a critical experience if someone is going to recover from the loss of a loved one. Let the person who wants to go through old photos and tell stories to do that. Let the person who doesn’t feel it yet, carry on with their daily work and obligations.
If your deceased family member has left instructions regarding their death, follow them. Yes, sometimes this can be hard or downright infuriating because you just want to deal with their death in a way that’s comfortable for you. When planning a service or dealing with personal effects and accounts, offer your deceased loved one the respect of following their instructions. Years from now, you might find there was some strange logic in what it was they requested.
Take Your Time
Some people can say goodbye within days or weeks of death in the family. Other people need months or years. No human relationship is the same, and this means there is no guidebook for how long it takes you to let go and say goodbye. You’re grieving; you don’t need the added pressure of moving through the stages of grief at a reasonable pace. It takes the time that it takes. No one can tell you how your grieving should look.
Develop Private Rituals
Instinctually, humans develop private rituals all the time—often without even knowing it. If it appeals to you, consider developing a private ritual that helps you deal with what feels like the hardest part of your grief. Maybe you don’t want to be weeping in front of other people and want to go for an isolated hike where you can let your emotion out and go unseen. Maybe you have a lot of anger towards the deceased person and find yourself having arguments in your head with them; perhaps you want to get a journal specifically for your angry thoughts and get them out of your body onto the page. Again, there are no wrong answers here.
The above tips should help you begin the process of saying farewell. Again, it’s important to remember that everyone is different, and grief wears many masks. Allow yourself to respond in a way that feels natural. Allow those around you to respond as feels natural to them.