How to Deal With the Sudden Death of a Loved One

If you are dealing with the sudden death of a loved one, it is likely that you will experience several different emotional responses. This is a part of the grieving process and is dealt with differently by each person. The grief associated with losing a family member or close friend can affect your psychological and physical well-being 1. While there is no surefire way to make bereavement easier, there are some measures you can take to help you get through it without causing lasting damage to other areas of your life 2.

Know What to Expect

Emotions that are commonly felt during the grieving process include anger, sadness, disbelief, guilt and shock. Remaining aware of these responses to grief can help you manage your own symptoms and can help you console others. It is also important that you accept both the actual loss and the associated feelings, according to an article published by the American Psychological Association (APA) entitled "Grief: Coping with the Loss of Your Loved Ones." Physical symptoms are also common and can include problems sleeping, changes in appetite and even illness 16.

Talk to Someone

For some people who are dealing with the loss of a loved one, it may help to be around family or friends. Talking with others who are also experiencing the loss may help you come to terms with what happened; it can additionally provide an outlet for sharing memories of the deceased. This is also a good way to receive and provide emotional support in the aftermath of a death. If friends or family members are not available to you, it may be helpful to join a support group or to see a grief counselor.

Consider Children

While dealing with your own grief, you will also need to help your children -- if you have any -- cope with the loss. How a child handles the death of a loved one can be affected by such things as developmental stage, how you cope with the loss, family stability and how the child is cared for afterward, according to an article published by the National Cancer Institute entitled "Grief, Bereavement, and Coping with Loss." To help your child, you can explain death in an age-appropriate way that facilitates understanding, let the child know it is all right to show emotion, talk about the deceased with your child and allow the child to take part in rituals of mourning 1245.

Seek Additional Help

In some cases, normal grief may develop into something that is more difficult to handle, such as a mental health issue or complicated grief. Mental health issues, which can include major depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, typically interfere with daily functioning. Complicated grief is characterized by long-term and severe symptoms of grief, the inability to accept the loss and preoccupation with thoughts of the deceased, according to the article "Grief," written by Sara Ringold, M.D., Cassio Lynm, M.D., and Richard Glass, M.D., and published by the Journal of the American Medical Association 16. If you or a loved one is suffering from any of the above issues, it is important that you seek the help of a psychology professional.