Tips for coping with loss

Tips for coping with loss

It’s true that we never know what’s going to happen from day-to-day. Grief for a human being, a beloved pet, a lost relationship, a job loss, or a loss in any other form can be devastating. As highly sensitive people, we feel things more intensely and may experience a longer lasting period of grief and loss. Thus, it helps to have a strategy to help us through these difficult times.

Below are some strategies that helped me through difficult times.

  • Don’t minimize or limit your feelings. Don’t ignore the importance of your loss or be embarrassed by it, regardless of what others think. Depending on the type of loss, you may face some people who think you’re overreacting. They may mean well, but it’s very important that you honor your own feelings. Be patient with yourself, and give yourself enough time to work through your loss. There are no time limits on your sadness. 
  • Reach out to people you trust. Sadness and grief turned inward are a dangerous threat to your wellbeing, so make sure that you talk about your feelings with your loved ones. Never hesitate to seek professional help if you need it.
  • Feel your sadness. Cry as much, and as often, as you need to. Tears may seem unproductive, but they provide a healthy emotional release. If you don’t feel your pain, it will stay with you, buried deep and always lingering in the background.
  • Take care of your body. It’s easy to neglect our physical needs when we’re consumed by sadness. Make sure you’re eating healthy food and drinking plenty of water, even if you have to force yourself to do these things. You should also make sure you get enough rest. When you’re feeling intensly stressed, stop and take conscious, deep breaths. This will naturally calm you down and give your system the oxygen it requires to function normally.
  • Remember the good times. It’s very helpful to remember the good times associated with your loss, whether it be a person, pet, job loss, etc.  You can always glean some “happiness nuggets” from these losses. Remembering a happy event or lessons learned will help you. If you lost a loved one, think of funny experiences you had with this person or silly, quirky things about them. Laughter may be hard at first, but it is incredibly healing.
  • Journal or write down your thoughts. This has been a great strategy for me, and I think it works especially well for many highly sensitive people, since we are deep thinking and have intense inner lives. I love to write, and I find it carthartic to write down my feelings or thoughts, either for myself or to share with others. If you lost a loved one, it might help to chronicle your journey through the grieving process, or perhaps you could write a poem or song about the person you lost.
  • Find a way to have closure. A proper ending or closure for your loss is a very individualized thing. It’s important that you do what’s comfortable and appropriate for you. For the loss of loved one, the start of closure is usually a funeral or a memorial service, but the real work of coping with the loss will be a long process. Give yourself all the time you need to work through your grief. A proper ending for job loss might be full acceptance of what happened, without assigning blame to yourself of anyone else, and a commitment to move forward to find a better situation.

Like many highly sensitive people, I have an especially hard time going to funerals. I sometime feel like I’ll be swallowed up by all the grief and sadness in the room! Nonetheless, I think it’s very important to go to funerals to pay the proper respect to the deceased individual and their loved ones. Although I feel drained, emotional and physically, after them, I have a good feeling that I did the right thing and offered support to those who need it most. When I’ve experienced losses myself, I know how important it is when others show how much they care and take the time to be with you as you go through this terrible experience. It really does mean a lot!

I’m not afraid to show my emotions. If I feel like crying, I do. I know there are some stereotypes that say that men shouldn’t cry, but I don’t subscribe to that at all. How could anyone think that there’s something wrong with honest tears? I find that most people understand, and it’s important to express emotions. Don’t make yourself sick by keeping your feelings inside.

How do you handle losses in your life? Do you have any strategies that have worked well for you? I’m interested in any thoughts or comments that you have.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Tracy

    Thanks, Cliff… very useful (and timely) information.

    1. Cliff Harwin

      Thank you Tracy! Feel free to pass this information on to others.

  2. Terri

    Hi Cliff,
    Your article came at a most appropriate time. We lost our beloved cattle dog a few weeks ago, and had family members move out, also, so it’s like a double loss. I’ve had people tell me to get over it, but they are not highly sensitive so don’t understand.

    Thanks, Terri

    1. Cliff Harwin

      Hi Terri,

      I’m sorry to hear that you’re going through a tough time. I’m an animal lover, so I understand how you feel about your dog. Any type of change is very stressful for all of us, whether you’re highly sensitive or not.

      You have to give yourself enough time to grieve. We are all different and this time might vary from person to person. Highly sensitive people can’t turn their feelings on and off like a faucet. We can’t just get over our intense feelings easily.

      I’m glad that my article helped you. Refer to it often and use my tips. Feel free to pass this information on to others.

      Best Regards,

  3. Ann Brown

    Cliff thankyou for your very thoughtful tips on how to deal with grief and loss. Yes, I find loss very difficult – I’m thinking particularly about deaths in close family (of which I’ve had several). One thing I’ve allowed myself is to grieve in my own timescale, and not to anyone else’s – so if it takes me years, rather than weeks or months, to get to a certain ‘stage’ of grief, then that’s fine. (There was sometimes a feeling that I ‘should’ be getting through it quicker than I was – but I dispelled that feeling – particularly in light of my sensitivity. It takes as long as it takes..
    I also agree with you about letting feelings out – it’s so much healthier if you can release your tears when you need to (and not bottle them up for fear of others’ disapproval).
    I certainly feel loss very deeply, due to my sensitivity I think, yet I also have the capacity to feel great joy in equal measure.

    1. Cliff Harwin

      Hi again Ann,

      Thank you for your comments about my blog post.

      Very important point to grieve on your own timetable! Grief does takes as long as it takes.

      Venting our feelings is critical for our sanity and well-being. Whatever it takes, crying, talking to a trusted friend life coach,counselor,etc.

      Another excellent point Ann…HSPS feel loss very deeply, but do have the capacity to feel great joy!

      Good stuff Ann!

  4. David Spear

    I’m afraid I have to strongly disagree with “Remember the good times”. That greatly increases the sense of loss. I unfortunately have to block the many many wonderful times out from the loss of my wife 2 years ago. I hate to do that and hope I will eventually find a way of not needing this. But for now, I might commit suicide if I didn’t.

    1. Cliff Harwin

      I’m sorry for your loss David. Give yourself enough time to grieve. Seek counseling if you feel lost. Have patience. The passage of time will put things in their proper perspective and you’ll be able to move on with your life. There’s no reason why you can’t have other good times in your life. It sounds like had a very loving relationship with your late wife. Do you think that she would want you to suffer? Again give yourself enough time to grieve. I hope this helps you.

  5. David Spear

    Thank you for your kind response. I’ve known from the first that my wife doesn’t want me to grieve. I hope I am not disturbing her. I’ve read that grieving can last 10 years. But I’m exhausted now. I’ve gone to various councilors for other things, with only fair results. Still, I am considering that. My current thought is that this is a mid-life crisis, since I have to block out the very wonderful life we had together. I make myself do new things which I do enjoy. But the grief pops up, seemingly forever, whenever I see a reminder.

  6. Cliff

    Again David, give yourself enough time to grieve. It varies from person to person. Do things that you enjoy and don’t block out the wonderful times that you had with your late wife. Hopefully this will encourage you to have more wonderful times.

    If the grief pops up, put it in its proper place and don’t let it put a damper on your life.

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