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Coping with the loss of a loved one when you can’t be there

Coping with the death of a loved one is a complicated process. It involves dealing with an array of emotions and can leave you feeling drained, overwhelmed and unable to handle even the simplest of daily activities. When you live in a different city and can’t be with your family after the loss, it’s especially difficult to manage your grief and all the emotions that come with it. You may feel guilty or ashamed, or you might be worried about how it will affect your relationships with family members.

Fortunately, there are some ways you can handle both your grief and be there for your loved ones during this difficult time. There have been so many advances made in technology that it’s easier than ever to connect with the people you care about no matter how far apart you are. It’s important to remember, as well, that sometimes there are circumstances outside of your control. Be easy on yourself during this process, because your mental health and emotional well-being are important.

Here are a few of the best ways to cope with the loss of a loved one when you are unable to be with your family.

Give your time

Hearing about a death in the family when you’re living abroad or in a different state can sometimes make you feel disconnected. You aren’t in the midst of everyone’s grief, so it may not completely feel real to you. That’s why it’s important to talk to your loved ones and take the time to acknowledge the loss. Help older relatives set up a Skype account so you can talk face-to-face, and be prepared to spend some time talking about favorite memories of your loved one. This can be cathartic not only for your family members, but for you as well.

If that’s not enough, think about finding an online bereavement program that can help you work through your feelings in a healthy way. Sometimes, putting some distance between yourself and the situation while still being able to talk to someone who understands can help quite a bit.

Celebrate your loved one’s life

Living far away from your family members and the people you’re closest to can be difficult even when you haven’t just experienced a loss, so it’s important to do little things to keep them in your daily life. Place photos around your home of your favorite memories with them and display mementos or cherished items that have been passed down to you. After losing a loved one, it can help immensely to do something to celebrate their life, such as following in their footsteps with a career or hobby or establishing a charity group in their honor.

Offer to help

You can help your family with making arrangements and preparing for the funeral even when you’re far away. Offer to help in any way you can, whether it’s contacting distant family members to let them know about the loss or gathering photos for a digital slideshow memorial that can be emailed to the funeral home.

Make things easier

There are several ways you can make things easier for your loved ones from afar. If you have the means, consider hiring a cleaning service that can come in and take care of their home, or send gift cards for their favorite restaurants so they don’t have to worry about making dinner. Think about what they could use the most during such a difficult time and take care of it for them.

Remember to take care of yourself while you’re grieving. Make sure you get enough sleep, eat well-balanced meals and reduce stress as much as possible. Your physical and mental health are linked, so make sure they’re in good shape in order to get through your grief.


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About the Author

Jennifer Scott has experienced anxiety and depression since she was a teenager. She shares stories about the ups and downs of her anxiety and depression at SpiritFinder.

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