Coping With The “First Times” After Losing A Loved One

Losing a loved one is a tough, unforgettable experience to digest and live through. Time is however seen as a healer of initial grief, helping to work through the emotional challenges of loss.

Yet the “first times “are reasonably one of the most challenging obstacles to work through, due to the sensitivity and existing vulnerabilities of grief.

“First times” mainly focus on special occasions, such as birthdays, festive periods, and anniversaries, amplifying the magnitude of loss. Such moments are however personal, and can even reflect everyday activities or experiences, of “firsts” since the passing of a loved one.

Grief is an exhausting, emotional whirlwind, for understandable reasons. There are however some ways of coping, through the stages of grief, to digest emotions and to instead celebrate life and memory.

Here’s some advice on coping with the “first times” after losing a loved one, helping to deal with initial and ongoing grief. We at Kenna and Turner are here to offer support throughout bereavement, presenting funeral directing services and support.

 

Why are “first times” so tricky

“First times” are personal experiences, either marking a celebrated occasion or everyday, mundane action. They can be extremely tricky to work through, as memory, emotion and as hope are attached to such experiences.

Celebrations, for example, are part and parcel of life and relationships. To celebrate without a loved one, due to loss, can be challenging, triggering the stages of grief. It’s very normal to feel angry, to feel sad and to live in denial through the “first times”, those which commonly unite and define relationships.

Instead, the “first times” after losing a loved one will highlight the loss, even throughout simple tasks of routine responsibilities, plans and future arrangements.

It’s also important to remember that the “first times” after losing a loved one can appear at any given time, carrying personal meaning. Triggers are also personal, influencing emotions for some, while not for others. The grieving process is unpredictable and driven by a mixture of emotions. Yet the “firsts” are indefinitely a challenge that many family members struggle through, reflecting feelings of emptiness, guilt, regret, despair, and unfairness.

Coping with the “first times” after losing a loved one will feel impossible. Yet there are small actions that can help to ease the stages of grief, along with the initial encounters of loss.

 

Stages of grief

Grief can display itself in many different forms. A definite process is difficult to outline, as grief through the loss of a loved one is a private and sensitive time, which cannot be defined by expected feelings or reactions. Yet, there are common stages of grief, which emphasise certain emotional responses, which can trigger immediately, or through a process of realisation, such as the “first times”.

The stages of grief:

Denial: Representing feelings of numbness and of disbelief, this is a way of protecting oneself from the realisation of loss. Living in denial is an initial feeling, after losing a loved one, attaching to hope to work through both shock and sadness.

Anger: Feeling to blame and guilty are emotional responses to processing grief, which can display through angry outbursts. Blaming oneself, others or choices as the cause of loss is common here, familiarly seen through the “first times” after losing a loved one.

Bargaining: Thinking of alternative reasons, of possible outcomes and of bargains is the next stage of grief, acting as a distraction from the reality of loss. This again acts as a coping strategy, to protect oneself from the realism of losing a loved one.

Depression: Low feelings are expected through the grieving process. The development of mental health issues, at this stage, are common, very damaging for those with pre-existing vulnerabilities and triggers. This stage of grief resembles an emotional roller-coaster, reflecting symptoms of depression, despair, and hopelessness.

Acceptance: Acceptance can take some time, and for others, can be very difficult to work towards. Accepting the loss of a loved one will display the realisation of what’s ahead, by offering closure, by instead celebrating life, and by instead remembering the good.

The stages of grief can materialise differently across the unfortunate experience. Dealing with grief will vary for every individual. Due to the weight of “firsts”, grief can make such experiences even harder to digest. Coping with the “first times” after losing a loved one, through personal strategies will therefore be recommended, to deal with both grief and the acceptance of loss.

 

Coping with the “first times” after losing a loved one

“First times” will always be hard. Yet with awareness of their meaning, along with ways to instead mark the occasion, coping through and processing grief, to an extent will be possible.

Being aware of the struggles

Being aware of the magnitude of “first times” is very important, along with personal triggers. Struggles are inevitable, yet awareness of their development will be key to coping. Through awareness, planning ahead for management will be possible, with the backing of support.

 

  • Sourcing/accepting support

Support, on personal and professional levels, is available through bereavement. Opening up to those you trust, sharing emotions, sharing thought processes and sharing the load of grief will offer relief. Therapy is also highly effective through losing a loved one, to cope through each stage via healthy means.

 

  • Marking the occasion

This is a personal choice. Yet marking occasions is a way of coping with the “first times” after losing a loved one, by celebrating their life, rather than experiencing the challenging stages of grief.

 

  • Accept emotions

Feeling emotional through the stages of grief is normal. Accepting your emotions is important, to cope and to remain level-headed. Support is available through the hardships of loss. If negative emotions do arise, this is the time to accept immediate support, to avoid toxic or self-sabotage strategies.

 

  • Remain mindful and present

Mindfulness, along with healthy coping strategies are a positive way to process and work through grief. Being present, grateful, and fully in tune with oneself is important. This is the time to practise self-care, to turn to healthy ways of coping and to perverse mental health.

 

Dealing with ongoing grief

Losing a loved one will be one of the hardest losses to process and deal with. Yet for their legacy, coping through the stages of grief will be encouraged, to instead celebrate life. We at Kenna and Turner are here to support through bereavement, along with providing guidance through the stages of grief. Coping with the “first times” after losing a loved one will inevitably be tough. Yet with coping strategies and support networks in place, dealing with ongoing grief will be doable.

Reach out for our support throughout the bereavement process, here to offer compassion, guidance, and a network of support throughout the loss.