Learning to cope with loss is difficult, but adjusting to the loss of your mom stands alone as one of the most painful challenges you encounter in your life experience. Mental Health America defines grieving as the physical, emotional and psychological demonstration of your loss. It’s normal to experience profound feelings of grief after losing your mom, because of the unique relationship you shared with her. You can take specific steps in the grieving process to help with expressing and resolving these painful feelings.
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Acknowledge the stages of grief proposed by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, who advocated that the grieving process includes the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance for some individuals. Ross stated that although many individuals exhibit these responses to grief, everyone experiences grief differently. You may process your feelings of grief through one, all or none of these stages.
Initiate the healing process by acknowledging your feelings, and then express them. Some of the feelings you may experience include shock, guilt, sadness, anger and fear. Attempting to evade your painful feelings may extend the course of grieving, according to Help Guide, and influence the development of other problems such as depression and anxiety. Express these feelings in a manner that suits you. You may want to express your feelings to family members and friends who share treasured members of your mom. Alternatively, expressing your feelings in a creative way through writing, art or a scrapbook are options.
Do not place time limits on your grief, and do believe others who insist that time constrictions should be placed on your grieving process. Grieving is an individual process, much like your mom, who was a distinctively individual person. Your coping skills, personality traits and relationship with your mother will influence the grieving process for you, so permit yourself to laugh, cry and reminisce to facilitate healing. Allow yourself to grieve over a time period that is right for you, and ignore external expectations.
Consider the relationship between your mind and body. For example, think about the last time you attempted to complete a mental task when you felt physically ill or fatigued – you may have struggled. Similarly, you will be better equipped to cope with the acute stress that accompanies the loss of your mom when you remember to care for your physical health. Staying hydrated, eating nutritional foods and getting sufficient rest enable your body to help you meet the mental challenges that grieving entails.
Make plans to cope with some of grief associated with special days. Special days that you shared with mom, such as her birthday, Mother’s Day and other holidays may prove especially difficult. For example, honor your mom’s memory on Mother’s Day by spending the day with another individual who understands your loss. On your mom’s birthday, surround yourself with other members of your family to celebrate some of the priceless contributions she made to the family, and share some of your favorite memories.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Mental Health America: Coping With Bereavement
- Help Guide: Coping With Grief and Loss
- KidsHealth: When Somebody Dies
- HealthyChildren: Helping Children Cope With Death
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Bereavement
- HealthyChildren: Grief and Getting Back to Normal
- KidsHealth: Talking About Your Feelings