3 Ways to Move Through the Grief When a Loved One Suddenly Passes


Couples can support each other through grief

Grief may feel impossible under any circumstances. It is not something one can easily prepare for but it can help a little when you know about a loss in advance. For example, if a loved one is terminally ill, you have the opportunity to begin processing that reality.


Again, “prepare” may be an overly ambitious word here. Yet, there is definitely some level of awareness you have when death is a process rather than a sudden event. In that, many people find strength or solace.

Conversely, the abrupt or tragic loss of a loved one can rock your mental and emotional foundations. Enduring this form of grief is a completely different process.

The Loss of a Loved One

Everyone experiences grief differently. Usually, though, some general common feelings and experiences arise, e.g.

  • Changes in sleeping and eating habits

  • Crying spells

  • Inability to accept the loss

  • Inability to focus at work

  • Anger and blame

  • Self-blame and guilt

In the case of sudden death, you will feel everything discussed above. On top of all that is the shock and sudden (yet temporary) loss of security in your life. Your life, your daily concerns, and your hourly routines may change in a moment.

Thus, recovery may or may not be a linear process or happen swiftly. Allowing yourself time for mental and emotional processing is vital. How much time? That depends. Yet, six months is a general time frame for regaining a sense of normalcy. Your emotions may seem overwhelming and variable during this period but you can take some key steps to help yourself recover.

3 Ways to Move Through the Grief When a Loved One Suddenly Passes

1. Seek Out Support

Isolation in grief can foster depression without support. Still, the kind of support you seek out will depend on you. Options may include family and friends, clergy, and/or a therapist. Another common and effective option is a bereavement group.

There is power in uniting with others who can understand what you are feeling. Safe, compassionate support provides the opportunity to share, gain perspective, and find hope for growth and meaning. You may also find solace in being a voice of empathy for others.

2. Practice Self-Love and Self-Care

You matter. Despite the shocking enormity of your loss, you cannot and must not neglect your needs. You can absolutely mourn and practice self-care at the same time. Suggestions:

  • Keep a journal of your emotions and triggers

  • Regularly reach out and allow others to check on you

  • Manage your sleep patterns

  • Maintain healthy eating habits

  • Practice daily exercise or physical activity

  • Share what you are feeling

3. Feel What You Need to Feel

People will urge you to “stay strong” or “move on.” They may mean well but this is not helpful advice. You need to feel what you need to feel. Your process is your own. Grief can linger if you suppress it.

There is no need to please anyone else’s blueprint for how to mourn. Get in touch with your emotions and your needs. Any loss can throw you for a loop. Sudden death is enough to shake to your core. Honor this reality and set your own timetable for recovery.

When Grief Becomes Complicated

As touched on above, this will be a journey rather than a destination. A return to your old normal is not the goal. You have suffered a jolting loss and will carry bits of this experience with you forever. Still, you can learn to accept, cope, and honor your loss.

However, for some, the waves of sorrow never seem to stop. Do you feel stuck, unable to move past the loss, or achieve personal functioning because of it? This is called complicated grief and often requires professional guidance.

Over time, working with a counselor can assist you with the adjustments you need to make. Whether counseling takes the form of in-person or via video chat, grief therapy is a proven path. If you need support, please contact me soon for a consultation.

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