31 May The Long Goodbye: 8 Ways to Cope with Grieving a Loved One Who is Still Here
Sometimes in life a devastating disease can change a loved one and they may be physically with us, but their mind is gone. We can watch them deteriorate over years and during this time we grieve the person they once were while we also grieve the loss of them now. It can be one of the most difficult challenges in life to go through, and the impact on family members and loved ones is profound.
Here are 8 tips to help you deal with this hardship:
- Cherish the past. The person you remember is with you always in memories. Even if they are different now, this doesn’t take away the relationship you once had. Cherish these positive memories, journal about them, and look through old photos to hold on to these good feelings.
- Be open-minded to creating a different relationship. Your loved one has changed and so will your relationship, but they are still in your life. Think about how your connection is now different and accept it rather than resisting it. This can provide a new opportunity for you to connect with them in a new way and provide some peace of mind.
- Illness does not represent your loved one. It can be extremely hard when someone you love acts completely the opposite from what you’ve always known. Familiarize yourself with their illness and it may help alleviate any anger or frustration you’re feeling toward their behavior.
- Don’t go it alone. Being a caregiver can be isolating at times. Connect with others who are experiencing the same challenges as you. Finding a support group can provide you with new ways to deal with your particular situation and help you connect with people who understand.
- Find creative outlets. Expressing yourself in creative ways can help ease your grief. Consider learning a new skill like photography, painting, kickboxing, or try journaling about your feelings.
- See a counselor. Counseling can offer a private space to process complicated emotions and deal with overwhelming feelings. If you already belong to a support group, the organizer might have recommendations for counselors who work with people going through the same thing as you.
- It’s okay to laugh! Use the gift of laughter to ease your grief. Laughter helps us to cope with life when things seem hopeless. Sharing funny stories about your loved one with others who know them can be a healing and bonding experience that helps you feel not so alone.
- Self-care is key. Get a good night’s rest, eat healthy, and get enough exercise. Find ways to relax through such past times as reading, meditating, listening to music, or going for a walk. In combination, all these activities can enable you to have a strong physical and mental state and be better prepared to manage your loved one’s situation.
When you’re dealing with the loss of a loved one over time due to illness, each day you need to find ways to let go of the stress and anxiety. Understanding the illness and your own needs to help deal with this overwhelming situation, can provide you a successful road map for managing your daily life with a positive outlook.