Coping with Daily Life When a Loved One Dies


When someone you love dies your life is changed forever. Understanding those changes, getting used to them and adjusting to them can take a really long time. 

In the meantime, daily life goes on. Some people find maintaining their usual routine is really helpful. But that doesn’t mean you have to pretend everything is fine and easy. Make sure you keep space for the emotions and reactions that come with your grief, and make time for self-care.

Throughout the day it is normal for your mind to bounce between focusing on the loss of your loved one, and focusing on life as it is now and plans for the future without them. This is normal and an important part of the grief process.  

When you are bereaved it is normal for everyday things to seem hard, or to suddenly be hit by strong emotions. Grieving can be both physically and mentally draining. Prioritise what is most important to you or needs to be done, and call on extended family and friends for help with the rest. Sometimes you will be able to think weeks and months ahead, other times, it may only be days at a time, or even hour by hour. This is more than okay, breathe through and set realistic expectations for yourself. Lean on those who love you, ask for help. 

Because the grieving process can last for a long time, the type of support you want or need may change over time. Asking for it may get harder, especially if you or others think that you should be ‘over’ your grief by a certain time. Don’t be afraid to admit you need support, and it's OK to ask for help.

It’s normal to worry about how a child or young person is coping with life after the loss of a parent or sibling. Your child will look to you for how to cope, so model healthy grieving by taking care of yourself and getting professional support if you need it. Just as adults recover after grief, young people can learn to be happy again after bereavement.  

More advice/support 

It can be really helpful to read how other people have experienced grief and their strategies for coping with daily life. You can connect with others here on Parenting through Cancer or find bereavement support groups online.

If you are feeling overwhelmed or finding it hard to cope with everyday tasks, talk to your GP, a psychologist or a Canteen counsellor: 1800 835 932.  

For a full list of Parenting through Cancer resources click here
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