The death of a loved one is always hard, but every loss is different, and everyone grieves differently. This is true even of deaths that were expected, but it’s especially true of sudden loss. A sudden shocking loss, in which someone dies because of a crime, accident, suicide or in some other unexpected way, has a much different impact than a predictable loss. Understanding why is the first step in learning how to work through the grief.

A sudden loss undermines your sense of security because there is no time to prepare. The bereaved family and friends have to process not only grief but also shock and disbelief. Some experience sleep disturbances, nightmares, depression, anxiety and a host of other issues. In some cases, a sudden loss can also shake a person’s belief system, which becomes another kind of loss.

If you’ve experienced a sudden loss, it’s vitally important to take care of yourself.

  • Maintain your routines. You may feel like cutting yourself off from the rest of the world and hiding in your bed until you feel better. The truth is, your routines give you a semblance of normality in a stressful time and can help you heal more quickly.
  • Get enough sleep. Sleep is restorative to every system of your body as well as your mind. It helps you think more clearly and improves your mood. That’s why it’s crucial for those who are grieving to get enough rest.
  • Eat well. A diet full of nutrients will help give you the stamina you need to navigate the unfamiliar terrain of bereavement. Eating well will also help protect you from illness and fatigue.
  • Talk to someone. You may have a friend or family member in whom you can confide during this time. If you don’t, try to find someone. It can be a member of the clergy, a counselor or even a support group, but you need someone to talk to in order to process your own grief.

If you are not the one who is grieving but you want to know how to reach out to someone who is, here are some basic guidelines:

  • Do something concrete to help. You might offer to do a necessary task such as providing child care, running errands or helping with the unfinished business of the deceased. You might also offer to make a meal or take your grieving friend out of the house for a while. It can be a good idea to wait until a bit of time has passed because there will be plenty of help at first — and when the well-wishers fall away, the family will still need assistance.
  • Allow time for grieving and be a good listener. Try not to offer platitudes or advice. Just tell your friend you don’t know how this feels, but you’re there if you’re needed. Your friend may want to talk about the lost loved one, sharing memories or expressing grief, but may feel it would be for painful to another family member to hear it. As a slightly removed party, you may be the perfect listening ear to help your friend work through this.
  • Remember that grief doesn’t just go away. Reach out from time to time, particularly on anniversaries, birthdays, holidays or other special days that the grieving person might find difficult.

It’s impossible to prepare for sudden death, but you can prepare for death’s inevitability. At Greenwood, we are experts at preplanning and can help plan for your end-of-life arrangements in a way that celebrates and honors your unique life while respecting and consoling your family. Call us at (619) 241-4312 to learn how preplanning can help your loved ones focus on healing instead of having to make decisions during a stressful time.