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Grief: Coping with the loss of a loved one

Coping with the loss of a close friend or family member may be one of the hardest challenges that many of us face. When we lose a spouse, sibling, or parent, our grief can be particularly intense. Sadly, loss is a natural part of life, but we can still be overcome by shock and confusion, leading to prolonged periods of sadness or depression. The sadness typically diminishes in intensity as time passes, but grieving is an important process in order to overcome these feelings and continue to embrace the time you had with your loved one.

Everyone reacts differently to death and employs personal coping mechanisms for grief. Research shows that most people can recover from a loss on their own through the passage of time if they have social support and healthy habits. It may take months or a year or longer to come to terms with a loss. There is no “normal” time period for someone to grieve. Don’t expect to pass through phases of grief either, as new research suggests that most people do not go through stages as progressive steps.

If your relationship with the deceased was difficult, this will also add another dimension to the grieving process. It may take some time and thought before you are able to look back on the relationship and adjust to the loss.

Human beings are naturally resilient, considering most of us can endure loss and then continue on with our own lives. But some people may struggle with grief for longer periods of time and feel unable to carry out daily activities. Those with severe grief may be experiencing complicated grief. These individuals could benefit from the help of a psychologist or another licensed mental health professional who specializes in grief counseling.

Mourning the loss of a close friend or relative takes time, but research tells us that it can also be the catalyst for a renewed sense of meaning that offers purpose and direction to life.

Grieving individuals may find it useful to use some of the following strategies to help come to terms with loss:

  • Talk about the death of your loved one with friends and colleagues in order to understand what happened and remember your friend or family member. Denying the death is an easy way to isolate yourself, and will frustrate your support system in the process.
  • Accept your feelings. People experience all kinds of emotions after the death of someone close. Sadness, anger, frustration and even exhaustion are all normal.
  • Take care of yourself and your family. Eating well, exercising and getting plenty of rest helps us get through each day and move forward.
  • Reach out and help others dealing with the loss. Helping others has the added benefit of making you feel better as well. Sharing stories of the deceased can help everyone cope.
  • Remember and celebrate the lives of your loved one. Possibilities include donating to a favorite charity of the deceased, framing photos of fun times, passing on a family name to a baby or planting a garden in memory. What you choose is up to you, as long as it allows you to honor that unique relationship in a way that feels right to you. If you feel stuck or overwhelmed by your emotions, it may be helpful to talk with a mental health professional who can help you cope with your feelings and find ways to get back on track.

Psychologists and mental health professionals are trained to help people better handle the fear, guilt or anxiety that can be associated with the death of a loved one, and can help people build resilience and develop strategies to get through their sadness. Mental health professionals often use a variety of treatment modalities to help with grieving. A commonly used treatment is psychotherapy to assist people to improve their lives by better coping with grief.

If you need help the next steps to take when a loved one passes away, click here and download our FREE guide.

This article was adapted from a March 2011 post by Katherine C. Nordal, PhD on the APA’s Your Mind Your Body Blog.

Disney versus Universal?

Most people who know the Bellomo family know that we are Disney fanatics through and through.  We have been blessed to be able to go to Disney frequently and have been able to share that with our daughter DeAnna.  In fact, my wife even has a license plate that has the name Disney on it. To say we are fanatics is probably an understatement.  

Last year my daughter asked us if we could go to Universal for a change because she wanted to see the Harry Potter experience.  Neither my wife nor I are big fans of the movie and neither of us has read the books. However, my daughter was excited about the prospect, so we decided to add a few extra days onto our Thanksgiving trip to go to Universal.  We stayed on-site at the Hard Rock Hotel and had an absolute blast. The Harry Potter land is nothing short of magical, and I will admit I was quite impressed.

This Christmas holiday we went back to Disney with our extended family and were fortunate enough to be able to do a tour.  The experience was breathtaking and completely reinvigorated my excitement over Disney and the magical moments that it creates.  Again, we added a few extra days for my wife, daughter and me to go to Universal, and we were equally as impressed. They are certainly two very different parks and accommodate a different audience for sure.  However, it is very clear to me that both create magical experiences, are both at the top of their game, and far ahead of any competitors.

Thank you to both Universal and Disney for providing amazing experiences for our family.  We could not have had a better trip and now consider our family to be fanatics both of Disney and Universal.  

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Bellomo & Associates, LLC is proud to welcome its fourth attorney, Daniel D. Hill

I am proud and excited to welcome Attorney Daniel D. Hill to the law firm of Bellomo & Associates, LLC. I am now more excited than ever for the future of our firm and the clients we serve. At Bellomo & Associates, we pride ourselves on offering top-notch estate planning and elder law advice, and we are now more poised than ever for the future.

Dan and I were law school study partners at Widener University in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. We met on the first day of law school and immediately became best friends; we took all of the same classes and prepared outlines and notes together. During our three years in law school, our friendship grew, and eventually, we both went to Lancaster, Pennsylvania and clerked for judges in the Lancaster Courthouse. We have always remained best friends and have stayed in touch over the years, but Dan’s endeavors took him back to his hometown of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where he was a partner in a family law practice for most of his career. Dan and I always stayed in touch and discussed our respective practice areas, never even considering that there would be another opportunity for us to get together professionally.

Bellomo & Associates was blessed to have Attorney Bill Poole and Attorney Irene Sartalis, the firm was running smoothly, and we were serving clients very well. The one missing piece was the future of the firm and what would happen if something happened to me. Over the summer, my wife and my daughter and I were at Hershey Park when Dan texted me and said are you around? He was in Hershey with his wife, Janice, at a family law conference. Dan and I spoke for about an hour, and it became very clear that the emotional grind of a family law practice had certainly started to get to him. I remember asking him, “Dan, how long can you keep this up?” From that moment forward, he and I started talking about what it would look like for us to join forces and be able to serve not only southcentral Pennsylvania, where Bellomo & Associates is headquartered but also western Pennsylvania, where Dan is currently located.

The rest is, as they say, history. I could not be more excited to be joining forces with Dan again, and the addition of our fourth attorney not only allows us to serve clients in the York and Lancaster areas but also in western Pennsylvania as well. The future at Bellomo & Associates is very bright, and we are excited. Welcome to the family, Attorney Hill; we are very lucky to have you.

If you want to come and discover more about Bellomo & Associates join us for one of our upcoming workshops.  You can RSVP by clicking here.