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How to survive the death of a loved one: recommendations of psychologists, stages of experiencing grief and features


Four steps to help you cope with the loss.

“When parents lose their son or daughter, not over the age of a blossoming youth, or a loving spouse loses his wife, or the wife of a husband in his prime, all the philosophies and religions in the world, regardless of whether they promise immortality or not, cannot eliminate the impact of this brutal tragedy on loved ones. "

It is difficult to disagree with the philosopher’s thought expressed in the epigraph that nothing will eliminate the heavy impact of such a tragedy as the loss of a loved one. But a person who is experiencing such a severe shock can be helped.

Psychologist J. William Vorden identified four main tasks that a mourner needs to complete in order to return to a full life:

  1. Recognize loss
  2. Survive the pain of loss
  3. Reorganize life and surroundings
  4. Build a new attitude towards the deceased and continue to live

In contrast to the stages of grief that stood out earlier, the formulation of these tasks emphasizes the active and responsible, rather than the passive and helpless role of the grieving. Grief is not something that happens to us on its own, changing its phases. We are used to treating negative feelings as unnecessary ballast, which we need to get rid of as soon as possible. The experience of the pain of loss is a necessary part of the path that leads to its acceptance. And this is primarily the internal work of the grieving person himself.

This does not mean that the grieving person must cope with the loss, relying solely on his own strength. The presence of people who are ready to support the grieving person and share his grief with him, as well as his help to others in their grief, significantly softens the experience of loss.

1. Recognize the loss

How to put up with the death of a loved one? To survive the loss, you must admit that it happened. At first, a man on a machine gun tries to make contact with the deceased - “sees” him among people in the crowd, mechanically tries to reach him, buys his favorite products in a supermarket.

In the usual scenario, this behavior is naturally replaced by actions that deny a far-fetched connection with the deceased. A person who performs actions similar to those noted above, normally cut shorts and thinks: "Why am I doing this, because he (she) is no more."

For all the apparent oddity, such behavior is normal in the first weeks after loss. If the irrational hope for the return of the deceased takes on a stable character - this is a sign that a person cannot cope with grief.

Give yourself time to get used to the loss.

2. Relive the pain of loss

How to accept the death of a loved one? It is necessary to survive difficult feelings so as not to carry this burden through life. If you do not immediately experience the pain, then returning to these experiences will be more difficult and painful. The delayed experience is further complicated by the fact that it will then be more difficult for the grieving person to obtain the sympathy and support of others, on which he can count on immediately after the loss.

Sometimes, despite all the intolerance of pain and suffering, the grieving person clings to them (often unknowingly), as for the last connection with the deceased and the opportunity to express his love to him. Here the following distorting logic works: stopping suffering means reconciling, reconciling means forgetting, forgetting means betraying. Such an irrational understanding of love for the dead does not accept loss.

Performing this task often inhibits the reactions of other people. When faced with negative feelings and severe pain of a grieving person, others may experience tension, which they try to reduce by providing not always the right help:

  • switch attention (“get together, think about the children”, “you have to take care of your mother”)
  • try to immediately take something grieving in order to distract from experiences
  • forbidden to talk about the dead ("do not disturb him, he is already in heaven")
  • discount the uniqueness of what happened (“we will all be there”, “not you first and not you last”)

Allow yourself to feel pain and loss, give free rein to tears. Avoid people who prevent you from experiencing loss.

3. Reorganize life and surroundings

Together with a loved one, a person loses a certain lifestyle. The deceased took on responsibilities, helped in everyday life, expected a certain behavior from us. It is necessary to rebuild life in order to fill the void. For this, it is important for the grieving person to learn to do what the deceased did for him, to receive this help from others, and, possibly, to continue his work, if it is to his liking.

How to cope with the death of a loved one if you were connected in the closest way? If the deceased did everything around the house, choose the best option - hire a person to clean or learn the simplest actions yourself. If you have lost the spouse and mother of your children, take the organization of a comfortable family life onto you, ask for help from relatives, or hire a nanny. In the same way, mothers, if they lose their spouse, can, for example, master driving and take their husband’s place at the wheel to take their children to school and to sections.

This may sound cynical, but sometimes the loss of a loved one has advantages. For example, a mother-dependent girl said: “Mom died, and I began to live. She did not allow me to become an adult, and now I can build my life as I want. I like it". An adult has finally begun to manage his life. Agree that not all "adults" can boast of this.

It is good if the time that is freed is occupied with satisfying the true needs of the grieving person, filling his life with joy and meaning. This can be new or forgotten hobbies, communication with friends close or distant due to loss of friends, searching for yourself and your place in a new life.

It is important to rebuild life and your life in such a way as to minimize the feeling of emptiness.

4. Build a new attitude towards the deceased and continue to live.

A new attitude towards the deceased does not imply his oblivion; it defines a place for him, taking which he will leave enough space for others. This is reflected in an illustration of the thought of William Vorden describing a letter from a girl who lost her father and wrote to her mother from college: “There are other people you can love. This does not mean that I love my father less. "

Old relationships can be very valuable, but they should not impede new ones. How to help survive the death of a loved one: to build a new attitude - a person must realize that the death of a loved one does not contradict love for another man or another woman, that you can honor the memory of a friend, but be friends with new people.

Separately, it is necessary to stipulate the death of the child. Often, parents are in a hurry to decide to give birth to a new child, not having time to fully survive and accept the loss of the former. Such a solution is not so much a movement towards a new life as a denial of the irreversibility of losing the old (unresolved first task). They unconsciously want to re-give birth to a dead child, to return everything as it was. But only after experiencing the loss completely, mourning the deceased and aligning his emotional attitude towards his death, it is worth thinking about a new child. Otherwise, the parents will not be able to build a genuine relationship with him and will unconsciously try on him the idealized image of the deceased. It is clear that this comparison will not be in favor of the living.

Surviving the loss does not mean forgetting the deceased.

When to seek help

If you get stuck on the performance of any of the tasks described, if it is impossible to reconcile with the loss and learn new experiences, the work of grief can become pathological. It is necessary to distinguish between the normal work of grief from the manifestations of clinical depression, which requires medical intervention and psychological assistance (on average, every fifth grieving subject to it). Among the symptoms of serious depression, when help is required, it is customary to distinguish:

  • continuous reflection on the hopelessness of the situation, despair
  • obsessive thoughts about suicide or death
  • denial or misrepresentation of loss
  • uncontrolled or excessive crying
  • inhibited physical reactions and responses
  • extreme weight loss
  • constant inability to perform basic household tasks

Soreness of symptoms is determined not so much by their content as by duration, severity and consequences: how much they interfere with a person's life and contribute to the development of concomitant diseases. Therefore, it is sometimes difficult for a non-specialist to distinguish the normal course of grief from its pathological form. If you suspect, do not postpone the visit to a psychologist or psychotherapist.

The relation of modern society to death

“You don’t have to cry all the time”, “Hold on”, “He is better there”, “We will all be there” - all these consolations have to be heard by the grieving person. It happens that he generally remains alone. And this does not happen because friends and colleagues are cruel and indifferent people, just many are afraid of death and other people's grief. Many want to help, but do not know how and why. They are afraid to be tactless; they cannot find the right words. And the secret lies not in healing and comforting words, but in the ability to listen and let you know that you are nearby.

Modern society eschews everything related to death: avoids talking, refuses mourning, tries not to show its grief. Children are afraid to answer their questions about death. The society has developed the belief that too long manifestation of grief is a sign of mental illness or disorder. Tears are regarded as a nervous fit.

A man in his sorrow remains alone: ​​the phone does not ring in his house, people avoid him, he is isolated from society. Why is this happening? Because we do not know how to help, how to console, what to say. We are afraid not only of death, but also of those who mourn. Of course, communication with them is not quite psychologically comfortable, there are a lot of inconveniences. He may cry, he must be comforted, but how? What to talk about with him? Suddenly will you make him even more painful? Many of us cannot find the answers to these questions, step back and wait for the time until the person himself can cope with his loss and returns to normal. Only spiritually strong people remain close to the grieving at such a tragic moment.

The rituals of burial and grief in society are lost and are perceived as a relic of the past. We are, after all, “civilized, intelligent, and cultured people.” But it was these ancient traditions that helped to properly survive the pain of loss. For example, the mourners, who were invited to the coffin to repeat certain verbal formulas, caused tears in those relatives who were in a daze or shock.

At present, it is considered wrong to cry at the tomb. There was an idea that tears cause much disaster to the soul of the deceased, that they drown him in the next world. For this reason, it is customary to cry as little as possible and restrain oneself. Refusal of mourning and the modern attitude of people towards death have very dangerous consequences for the psyche.

Grief individually

All people experience the pain of loss in different ways. Therefore, the division of grief at the stage (periods), accepted in psychology, conditionally coincides with the dates of commemoration of the deceased in many world religions.

At the stage that a person goes through, many factors influence: gender, age, state of health, emotionality, upbringing, emotional connection with the deceased.

But there are general rules that you need to know in order to assess the mental and emotional state of a person who is experiencing grief. It is necessary to have an idea of ​​how to survive the death of the closest person, how and how to help the one in whom the misfortune happened. The following rules and patterns apply to children who experience the pain of loss. But they need to be treated with even more attention and caution.

So, a loved one died, how to deal with grief? To answer this question, you need to figure out what happens to the mourners at this time.

The first feeling a person experiences when he unexpectedly lost his family is a lack of understanding of how and how it happened. One single thought is spinning in his head: “It cannot be!” The first reaction that he experiences is shock. In fact, this is a protective reaction of our body, such a "psychological anesthesia."

Shock manifests itself in two forms:

  • Numbness, inability to perform the usual actions.
  • Excessive activity, agitation, screaming, fussiness.

Moreover, these conditions can alternate.

A person cannot believe what happened; sometimes he starts to avoid the truth. In many cases, there is a rejection of what happened. Then the person:

  • Looks for the deceased's face in a crowd of people.
  • Talking to him.
  • He hears the voice of the departed, senses his presence.
  • Plans some kind of joint events with him.
  • Keeps his goods, clothes and everything connected with him intact.

If a person for a long time denies the fact of loss, then the self-deception mechanism is activated. He does not accept loss, because he is not ready to experience unbearable mental pain.

How to survive the death of a loved one? Tips, methods in the initial period boil down to one thing - to believe in what happened, let the feelings escape, talk about them with those who are ready to listen, cry. Usually the period lasts about 40 days. If he dragged on for months or even years, you should contact a psychologist or a priest.

Consider what cycles the tribulation goes through.

7 stages of grief

How to survive the death of loved ones? What are the stages of grief, how do they manifest? Psychologists distinguish certain stages of grief that all people who have lost loved ones experience. They do not go one after another in strict sequence, each person has their own psychological periods. Understanding what happens to the grieving will help to cope with grief.

The first reaction, shock and shock, was already discussed, here are the following stages of grief:

  1. Denial of what is happening. “This could not happen” - the main reason for this reaction is fear. A man is afraid of what happened, what will happen next. Reason denies reality, a person convinces himself that nothing happened. Outwardly, he looks numb or fussing, actively organizing a funeral. But this does not mean at all that he easily survives the loss, he just has not yet fully realized what happened. A person who is in a daze does not need to be protected from the cares and troubles associated with a funeral. Paperwork, organization of funerals and commemoration, ordering funeral services make you communicate with people and help get out of a state of shock. It happens that in a state of denial a person ceases to perceive adequately reality and the world. Such a reaction is short-lived, but it is necessary to remove it from such a state. To do this, talk with him, all the time call him by name, do not leave him alone, distract from thoughts. But do not console and reassure, as this will not help. This stage is short. He’s kind of preparatory, a person mentally prepares himself for the fact that there’s no other close. And as soon as he realizes what happened, he will move on to the next stage.
  2. Rage, resentment, anger. These feelings completely capture a person. He is pissed at the whole world around him, for him there are no good people, everything is wrong. He is internally convinced that everything happening around is injustice. The strength of these emotions depends on the person himself. As soon as the feeling of anger passes, he is immediately replaced by the next stage of grief.
  3. Guilt. He often recalls the deceased, moments of communication with him and begins to realize that he paid little attention, spoke sharply or rudely, did not apologize, did not say that he loves, and so on. The thought comes to my mind: “Have I done everything to prevent this death?” It happens that this feeling remains with a person for his whole life.
  4. Depression. This stage is very difficult for people who are used to keeping all feelings to themselves and not showing them to others. They deplete them from the inside, a person loses hope that life will become normal. He refuses to be sympathetic to him, he has a gloomy mood, he does not contact with other people, he constantly tries to suppress his feelings, but this makes him even more unhappy. Depression after the loss of a loved one leaves an imprint on all walks of life.
  5. Acceptance of what happened. Over time, a person puts up with what happened. He begins to recover, life is more or less getting better. Every day his condition improves, and resentment and depression will weaken.
  6. Stage of rebirth. During this period, a person is uncommunicative, he is silent for a long time and often goes into himself. The period is quite long and can last up to several years.
  7. Organization of life without a loved one. After going through all the stages in the life of a person who has survived grief, much changes, and of course, he becomes different. Many are trying to change their old way of life, make new friends, change jobs, and sometimes reside. Man, as it were, is building a new model of life.

Symptoms of “normal” grief

Lindemann Erich highlighted the symptoms of “normal” grief, that is, the feeling that develops in each person with the loss of a loved one. Итак, симптомы:

  • Физиологические, то есть периодически повторяющиеся приступы физического страдания: чувство сдавленности в грудной клетке, приступы пустоты в животе, слабость, сухость во рту, спазмы в горле.
  • Поведенческие - this is haste or slowing down the pace of speech, inconsistency, freezing, lack of interest in business, irritability, insomnia, everything falls out of hand.
  • Cognitive symptoms - confusion of thoughts, distrust of oneself, difficulties with attention and concentration.
  • Emotional - a feeling of helplessness, loneliness, anxiety and guilt.

Time of trouble

  • Shock and denial of loss last about 48 hours.
  • During the first week, emotional exhaustion is observed (there were funerals, funeral services, meetings, commemoration).
  • From 2 to 5 weeks, some people return to everyday activities: work, study, normal life. But the closest begin to feel the loss most acutely. They are more acute in melancholy, grief, anger. This is a period of acute grief that can drag on for a long time.
  • Mourning lasts from three months to a year, this is a period of helplessness. Someone is overtaken by depression, someone needs additional care.
  • Anniversary is a very important event when the ritual completion of mourning takes place. That is, worship, a trip to the cemetery, commemoration. Relatives gather, and general grief eases the sorrow of loved ones. This happens if there is no jam. That is, if a person cannot reconcile himself to loss, is not able to return to ordinary life, he as if hangs in his grief, remains in his grief.

Hard life test

How can you survive the death of a loved one? How to endure all this and not break? The loss of a loved one is one of the most difficult and serious trials in life. Every adult in one way or another faced a loss. It is foolish to advise a person to pull himself together in this situation. At first, it is very difficult to accept the loss, but there is an opportunity not to aggravate your condition and try to cope with stress.

Unfortunately, there is no quick and universal way to survive the death of a loved one, but all measures must be taken so that this grief does not result in a severe form of depression.

When specialist assistance is needed

There are people who “hang up” in their severe emotional state, cannot cope with grief on their own and do not know how to survive the death of a loved one. Psychology identifies signs that should alert others, make them immediately consult a specialist. This must be done if the mourner has:

  • constant obsessive thoughts about the worthlessness and aimlessness of life,
  • deliberate avoidance of people
  • constant thoughts of suicide or death,
  • inability to return to the usual way of life for a long time,
  • slow reactions, constant emotional breakdowns, inappropriate actions, uncontrolled laughter or crying,
  • sleep disturbances, severe loss or weight gain.

If there is at least some doubt or concern about a person who recently survived the death of a loved one, it is better to consult a psychologist. He will help the mourner to understand himself and his emotions.

Tips: how to survive the death of a loved one

These are general recommendations on how to deal with the tragedy, what needs to be done in this difficult period:

  • Do not give up the support of others and friends.
  • Take care of yourself and your physical condition.
  • Unleash your feelings and emotions.
  • Try to express your feelings and emotions through creativity.
  • Do not set time limits for grief.
  • Do not suppress emotions, cry out grief.
  • Distracted by those who are dear and loved, that is, alive.

How to survive the death of a loved one? Psychologists advise writing a letter to a deceased. It should be said in it that they did not manage to do or inform during life, to confess to something. In general, put everything on paper. You can write about how not enough people are, about which you regret.

Those who believe in magic can turn to psychics for help and advice on how to survive the death of a loved one. They are also known to be good psychologists.

In difficult times, many people turn to the Lord for help. How to survive the death of a loved one? The priests advise the believer and the person who is far from religion to come to the temple more often, to pray for the deceased, to remember him on certain days.

How to help a person endure the pain of loss

It is very painful to see a loved one, friend, acquaintance who has just lost a relative. How to help a person survive the death of a loved one, what to tell him, how to behave, how to alleviate his suffering?

Trying to help their neighbor to endure pain, many people try to distract him from what happened and avoid talking about death. But it's not right.

What needs to be said or done to help survive the death of a loved one? Effective ways:

  • Do not ignore the talk of the deceased. If less than 6 months have passed since the death, then all the thoughts of a friend or relative revolve around the deceased. It is very important for him to speak out and cry. You can not force him to suppress emotions and feelings. However, if more than a year has passed since the tragedy, and all the conversations are still reduced to the deceased, then the topic of conversation should be changed.
  • Distract the grieving from his grief. Immediately after the tragedy, a person cannot be distracted by anything, he needs only moral support. But after a few weeks, it’s worth starting to give a person’s thoughts a different direction. It is worth inviting him to some places, enrolling in joint courses and so on.
  • Switch the person’s attention. Best to ask him for some help. Show him that his help is needed. Good care of the animal accelerates the process of overcoming depression.

How to accept the death of a loved one

How to get used to the loss and how to survive the death of a loved one? Orthodoxy and the church give such advice:

  • you must believe in the mercy of the Lord,
  • reciting prayers for the deceased
  • to put candles in the temple for the repose of the soul,
  • give alms and help the afflicted,
  • if spiritual help is needed, you need to go to church and turn to the priest.

Is it possible to be prepared for the death of a loved one

Death is a terrible event, it is impossible to get used to it. For example, police officers, pathologists, investigators, doctors who have to see many deaths seem to learn over the years to perceive someone else’s death without emotion, but they are all afraid of their own departure and, like all people, do not know how to transfer the care of a very close person.

You cannot get used to death, but you can psychologically prepare yourself for the departure of a loved one:

  • If a person is terminally ill. It is necessary to spend more time with him, to give an opportunity to tell about everything that is important to him, and also to share experiences and secrets with him. To tell all relatives and friends about the situation, they will also be able to enjoy his company. It is necessary to brighten up the last months of a loved one as much as possible. When he is gone, memories of this will be a little calming. How to survive the death of a very close person if he has been sick for a long time? Such a loss results in prolonged depression and serious emotional shake-up. The grieving person himself falls out of life for a long time. If a person is unconscious, it is necessary to provide care for him and also spend more time. Talk with him, remember and tell him something positive, tell him everything that you would like to say. Maybe he will hear everything you say.
  • If a person is engaged in work related to risk. Persuade him to change his job or occupation. If he does not agree and loves his work very much, it is necessary to appreciate every moment spent with this person.
  • If a relative is in old age, you should come to terms with the thought that this will someday happen anyway. You need to spend more time together. They often love to talk about their youth, are interested in everything that happens in the lives of grandchildren, children, they are very happy when they are interested in their opinions and knowledge. It is important that the final stage of life of a loved one be bright and happy.
  • How to survive death if a person died? Accept what happened, the faster this happens, the easier it will be to recover from the blow. Talk about him with friends and relatives, pray about him, talk with him, apologize or say what you did not have time to say in life. Sudden death is a terrible tragedy, it changes the surviving people. Due to the unexpectedness of the incident, the process of mourning lasts longer for relatives than during death from old age or from illness.

How to establish life after the death of parents

Losing parents is always a big tragedy. The psychological connection that is established between relatives makes their loss a very difficult test. How to survive the death of a loved one, mom? What to do when she is no longer there? How to deal with grief? And what to do and how to survive the death of a loved one, dad? But how to survive grief if they die together?

No matter how old we are, coping with the loss of parents is always difficult. It seems to us that they left too early, but it will always be at the wrong time. The bereavement must be accepted, we must learn to live with it. For quite a long time in our thoughts we turn to the departed father or mother, ask them for advice, but we must learn to live without their support.

The death of parents radically changes their lives. In addition to bitterness, grief and loss, there is a feeling that life has collapsed into the abyss. How to survive the death of a loved one and return to life:

  1. The fact of loss must be accepted. And the sooner this happens, the better. It must be understood that a person will never be with you again, that neither tears nor mental anguish will return him. We must learn to live without a mother or father.
  2. Memory is the greatest value of a person, our deceased parents continue to live in it. Remembering them, do not forget about yourself, about your plans, deeds, aspirations.
  3. Gradually, it is worth getting rid of heavy memories of death. They make a person depressed. Psychologists advise to cry, you can go to a psychologist or a priest. You can start keeping a diary, the main thing is not to keep everything in yourself.
  4. If you overcome loneliness, you need to find someone who needs care and attention. You can have a pet. Their selfless love and vitality will help overcome grief.

There are no ready-made recipes on how to survive the death of a loved one, suitable for absolutely all people. Situations of loss and emotional connections are different for everyone. And everyone experiences grief in different ways.

How is it easier to survive the death of a loved one? It is necessary to find something that will ease the soul, not to be shy to show emotions and feelings. Psychologists believe that grief should be “ill”, and only then will relief come.

Remember with a kind word and deed

People often ask how to ease their grief after the death of a loved one. How to live with it? It is sometimes impossible and unnecessary to alleviate the pain of loss. The time will come when you can control your grief. To relieve the pain a little, you can do something in memory of the dead. Maybe he wanted to do something himself, you can bring this matter to the end. You can do charity in memory of him, dedicate some creation in his honor.

It is important to preserve the memory of him, to always remember with a good word and deed.

And a few more recommendations ...

How to survive the death of a loved one? There is no universal and simple advice, it is a multifaceted and individual process. But the most important thing:

  • You need to give yourself time to heal the wound.
  • Do not be afraid to seek help if you need it.
  • It is necessary to monitor the diet and observe the daily routine.
  • Do not rush to calm yourself with alcohol or drugs.
  • Do not self-medicate. If sedatives cannot be dispensed with, it is best to consult a doctor for a prescription and recommendations.
  • It is necessary to talk about the deceased loved one with everyone who is ready to listen.

And most importantly, to accept loss and learn to live with it does not mean forgetting or betraying. This is healing, that is, a correct and natural process.


Each of us, even before birth, gets its place in the structure of a kind. But what kind of energy a person will leave for his family, it becomes clear only when his life ends. One should not be afraid to talk about a dead person, to tell more about him to children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It is very good if there are legends of the kind. If a person has lived a worthy life, he remains forever in the hearts of the living, and the process of mourning will be aimed at the good memory of him.