For All Who Lost a Loved One: 10 Ways to Cope

Don't hole up in your apartment and cry forever. Get up and take a walk. You can go jogging, go to the gym or even go swimming. Exercise doesn't just make you physically fit; it also improves your mental state.
11/17/2015 11:56 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

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Just before I went to bed on Friday, I read the news about a recent terrorist attack in Paris. It was a horrible way for me to end my day. When I got the figures about the casualties, I couldn't help but imagine the kind of agonizing pain those who lost loved ones in it must be passing through.

My heart goes out to all the people of Paris. But most especially, my heart goes out to everybody who is in pain because they lost a loved one that day.

I know what it is like to experience that kind of pain. I understand because, I have been there. I lost my mother while growing up, to an illness that could not be diagnosed. My experience may not be as intense, but to a large extent, I understand what they are going through now.

I can't do much to help, but I have chosen to do the little I can. For instance, I said a prayer for those who were affected by the attack. I equally changed my Facebook profile picture temporarily to show the flag of France.

Lastly, I decided to write this to help everybody who is hurting because a loved one died in the attack. These are 10 ways to deal with the pain.

1. Accept what happened.

It may not be the easiest thing now, but you have to stop imagining that what happened didn't happen. Doing this will only prolong your agony, as the healing process for every pain only begins with acceptance. Denial may be temporarily satisfying, but it never does any good on the long run.

2. Cry it out.

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"Crying away your negative feelings releases harmful chemicals that build up in your body due to stress." -- Dr. William Frey II, PH.D. Ramset Medical Center, Minneapolis.

There is no shame in tears. Do not pretend to be macho. Don't stifle your emotions either. If you feel like it, open your mouth and cry. Crying is therapeutic, maximize it.

3. Don't hang onto the past.

What happened on Friday is horrible, but you have to allow the past to really pass away. Don't cling on to it. Stop playing the event over and over in your head. It may be difficult but you need to move on, because life has to go on.

4. Engage in a physical activity.

It has been discovered that exercise decreases our stress hormones. They also increase endorphin which are chemicals that improve our state of mind. Don't hole up in your apartment and cry forever. Get up and take a walk. You can go jogging, go to the gym or even go swimming. Exercise doesn't just make you physically fit; it also improves your mental state. This will help you deal with your hurt and pain a lot better

5. Take well-deserved breaks.

One major thing that helped me cope with my mom's death was a change of environment. You should know exactly when to give yourself a breath of fresh air too. Make out time for a vacation and experience life in a different environment. These breaks will help take your mind off the pain you were feeling a lot faster than you or anyone else can imagine.

6. Express your feelings creatively.

Don't just cry; allow your creative juices to flow freely. Most creative works of art that have stood the test of time throughout history were produced with emotions. For instance, you can blog, write novels, compose songs, paint portraits or draw. At the end you won't just feel better; you may even create something spectacular as well. An example is the song "Dear John" by Taylor Swift, which was written after her breakup with John Mayer.

7. Listen to music.

Listening to music helped me tremendously in dealing with my mom's death. One time, I found healing by listening to Westlife's "Soledad," and Celine Dion's "Goodbye (The Saddest Word)". They made me realize that my emotional pain wasn't peculiar. I saw that other people have lost loved ones too and they were able to move on.

You should do the same, but be careful not to allow yourself to get depressed while listening to these songs. There isn't a one-size-fit-all song for emotional pain. You may find comfort when you listen to rock; sometimes you find solace in country side music. Other times it could be gospel or Blues. Go for whatever makes you feel better and heal quickly.

8. Take control of your life, especially your happiness.

Staying hurt and refusing to let go among other things, means that you have given someone else control of your life. Don't do that. In spite of what happened, choose not to live a miserable life. You are solely responsible for your own happiness. Don't leave it in someone else's hands, especially terrorists that hate you.

9. Leave the pity party.

It is normal to want the attention and pity that comes from being bereaved. But you should understand that you can't leave the pit if you are enjoying the pity. Whether it is self pity or pity from well meaning friends, leave the pity party as soon as you can.

10. Take a positive step today.

What will you do today to deal with your pain? How can you really prove that you have started to move on? You see, it is not really all about what you know; it is about what you do with what you know. So move on, and explore new opportunities. You have just one life to live and you shouldn't miss out on it.