The psychological and emotional effects of a tragic event can last well beyond the initial days and weeks following the event. There is no right or wrong way to grieve or cope with loss or tragedy. There are things you can do that can help you through your darkest days.
Whether you are dealing with the loss of a loved one, a natural disaster, a mass shooting or another tragic situation, it’s not uncommon to experience grief, stress or despair. These feelings may only last a short time. But for some people or in some situations, symptoms may linger. Taking positive action early on can help you from getting stuck. Left unchecked, symptoms of grief and loss may result in depression, anxiety or other long-term mental health issues.
Ways to Cope with Loss or Tragedy
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to coping with loss. These 15 coping strategies can minimize the impact of grief, loss and tragedy:
1. Acknowledge your pain. This is one of the first steps in helping you move past it.
2. Accept that how you cope may be different than someone else – and that’s okay.
3. Get back to your normal routine as soon as possible (this is especially important for children).
4. In the case of newsworthy events, limit your exposure to graphic stories, and seek accurate information from credible sources.
5. Take care of your physical well-being. Exercise, eat well and get enough sleep.
6. Focus on your emotional well-being. Keep busy with enjoyable activities.
7. Remind yourself of what’s still good in your life.
8. Communicate with friends, family and supporters.
9. Turn to spirituality, religion and your personal beliefs.
Support After Loss
It’s never easy losing a loved one and can be overwhelming. At the hospital, we have chaplains and social workers available to help during this difficult time.
10. Express yourself through writing, poetry, drawing or music.
11. Try to keep a sense of humor. Find ways to laugh.
12. Avoid alcohol, drugs or other ways to mask the pain.
13. Plan for how you’ll respond to triggers that bring emotions to the surface.
14. Share your feelings with others who have had similar experiences. Join a support group.
15. Seek the help of professionals, if needed.
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