Following the death of our loved one, on top of dealing with our grief we have to cope with countless everyday practical issues and it’s not surprising that many people feel overwhelmed. There are two dangers that we can fall into:
If No. 1 is at one end of a spectrum and No.2 at the other, pause for a moment and consider where your tendency lies along it.
Among the people we meet, more of them (especially men) tend to concentrate on the practical issues than they do on their grief. If you’re one of them, it’s important not to forget that grief is made up of a powerful mix of emotions, and if it is not expressed healthily, it may affect your emotional well-being for years to come.
So how do you tackle the practical tasks and give yourself time to grieve? Here are some key things to bear in mind.
However determined you are to do all the practical things yourself, acknowledge that you can’t. If you try to, you’ll get more and more tired and will eventually hit a brick wall.
Make a list of all the practical things that need doing and decide what you’re good at. Doing these takes much less energy than struggling with things you find difficult.
Just because your partner used to do certain tasks – the finances, DIY, the decorating – it doesn’t mean that you’re no good at them. If you really fancy trying something new, then go for it. Learning a new skill will give you a boost.
We know that many people have real financial problems as a result of their bereavement. These won’t go away, and if they aren’t dealt with they have the potential to cause problems for years. Seek advice and take your time making decisions. Decisions prompted by financial issues (for example, going back to work or moving house) may be the most important you will have to make.
For many, this will be the most difficult thing to do. You’ll need to acknowledge that now that you are on your own there are things on your list that you find challenging and don’t have time for. It will mean depending on other people for help. Recognise that people won’t always offer this – either they may not want to intrude, or they may simply not understand the fact that you need help – so you may well have to ask. If financial considerations allow, consider paying for the help you need.
Make sure you build in time for you – however impossible it may seem. You need space not only to have a break from all that is keeping you busy, but to work through all the emotions that bereavement brings. If you are tired and busy all the time, you will not be in the best place to make good choices and plans for the future.
However tough life seems when you’re faced with a host of practical issues that seem never ending, you will survive. Try to take on board some of the advice above. You will gradually discover a new, but different way of coping – one that will allow you to continue to grow and develop as a person on your different journey.
At Care for the Family we support couples, parents and those who have been bereaved. If you would be able to make a one off donation to support our work, we would be very grateful. Thank you.