THE FIRST YEAR WITHOUT A LOVED ONE

The first year after the loss of a loved one is the most challenging time.  We don’t realize it, but we have longstanding

habits that revolve around having that other person with us.  We set a place for them at the table.  We expect to hear their voice when the phone rings.

Psychologists and other experts on the emotion of grief call this the “year of firsts.”  They counsel that even though facing the truth and reality of a loss is certainly painful, there are steps we can take to cope with and overcome this very difficult time.

Therapists agree that there is no right or wrong way to deal with individual grief, but they also agree on several things we can do to begin the process of healing.  Reaching out to family is one technique, but it should be balanced with time alone. Whether it is Valentine’s Day, Christmas or Mother’s Day you might want to celebrate early and o the day just take personal time if it is too hard.  Others decide to stay busy on those days and the anniversary of the death.  Do what helps you the most.  Remember, the key is just getting through that first year.

Going out to parties or other social events (or “dragging yourself” there, as Dr. Philip Muskin puts it) is a way for you to confirm that your friends and family love you and want to offer their support, and they understand that you are not “your usual self”.

One woman who experienced the loss of her husband found comfort in remembering the “little things about him that I took for granted every day.”  Make the year of firsts a time to remember the joys of the past, and cherish the loved ones who remain with you.