What to do after losing a loved one

by Kaiser Permanente |
Person comforting a family member

Losing a loved one is one of life’s greatest challenges. It’s important to be kind to yourself during this difficult time. Feeling emotional, mental, or physical stress is normal — and it’s normal for those feelings to come and go.

While you’re processing your loss, it’s helpful to find healthy ways to share your feelings and get the support you need. And that support is especially important when you’re handling the many practical tasks that come up after a loved one’s death. Here are 3 steps to help you cope with grief and loss. 

Create your support system

Find a group of people who can support you while you’re grieving. That way, you’ll have someone to contact when you have trouble managing your feelings or daily life.

Part of your support system may include family members or close friends. They can listen to your feelings and help you with chores, cooking, or other tasks that you find difficult at the moment. The people closest to you will want to comfort you, so be sure to tell them what you need.

You could also join a grief support group to connect with others going through a similar experience. Learning that you’re not alone can be a great comfort. And, if you belong to a spiritual group, consider staying involved, socializing, and finding members who can be there for you.

Commit to caring for yourself

It may feel challenging to take care of yourself while you’re grieving. But making time for activities that bring you joy, help you relax, and prioritize your health is important. Doing so is a step toward adapting to the changes in your life.

You might take a walk, attend a yoga class, or practice deep breathing. If there’s an activity that supports your mind, body, and spirit — put it on your schedule. The more you make time for yourself, the easier it will become.

You can also access several emotional wellness apps to get additional support. These apps can help with stress, sleep, anxiety, and more — so you can take meaningful steps toward processing your loss.

Honor your loved one’s memory

There are many ways to honor your loved one’s memory, all of which can bring you comfort. 

If your loved one wrote a will, review their final wishes and consider planning a funeral or a memorial service that follows those wishes. You could also publish an obituary that celebrates the beauty of your loved one’s life. This can be a positive experience that helps you and others who are processing the loss of your loved one. If you need help doing any of the above, you can lean on your support system or ask the funeral home for help.

There’s no guidebook for dealing with the loss of a loved one, so remember that it’s OK to feel how you feel — and to get help when you need it. You can find more resources and support at kp.org/deathofalovedone.