How to cope with sudden loss (Photo: iStock)

The sudden death of a loved one is a devastating event that can leave us feeling lost, disoriented and overwhelmed by grief.

Unlike anticipated deaths where there is a period of preparation, a sudden loss throws us into a whirlwind of emotions making it difficult to know where even to begin the grieving process.

The initial shock can manifest in a variety of ways. Denial, numbness and intense emotional outbursts are all common reactions according to the American Psychological Association, 2023. It's important to acknowledge these emotions and allow yourself the time and space to grieve in whatever feels right for you.

Do not give in to pressure to heal immediately because there is no set timeline for healing and some days will undoubtedly be harder than others. Reaching out for support is a crucial lifeline during this difficult time.

Talking to close friends and family members who knew the deceased can provide a sense of comfort and understanding. Sharing memories, stories and tears can help validate your emotions and create a sense of shared experience.

Consider joining a bereavement group either in person or online to connect with others who have experienced similar losses. Sharing your journey with those who understand the unique challenges of sudden loss can be incredibly helpful and provide a safe space for processing your emotions.


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In this case, grief counselling can also be an invaluable resource because it will provide a professional space to talk openly about your experiences and how you can develop healthy coping mechanisms.

As if that isn’t difficult enough, there are practicalities that need to be addressed especially if the deceased was a family member. Legal matters, funeral arrangements and notifying others can feel overwhelming but don't hesitate to ask for help from those around you.

Many funeral homes offer resources and guidance to help navigate these logistical steps making the process somewhat easier. Remember, this isn't a burden you need to shoulder alone.

Although this may be the last thing on your mind, taking care of yourself physically and emotionally is essential during this hard time. Prioritise getting enough sleep even if it means short naps throughout the day. Focus on eating healthy meals even if it's just simple, nourishing foods.

Engage in activities you find comforting like taking a walk in the evening or reading the Bible. Exercise can be a powerful tool for managing stress and anxiety, releasing endorphins that can elevate your mood so maybe you could do more stretches and lifts. So even as you mourn, remember that taking care of yourself remains a necessity. 

Living Wellness Mental Health