How to Go on Living when Someone You Love Dies

Three Parts:Dealing with Your FeelingsSeeking SupportMoving Forward

It may feel nearly impossible to go on living when someone you love dies, and you may really feel completely hopeless, at first. However, once you start dealing with your feelings and seeking support, you may be able to see calm waters ahead. While you won’t be able to bring back the person you lost or to ever stop completely thinking about him or her, you will be able to take steps to deal with your pain and to move forward to live a meaningful and fulfilling life.

Part 1
Dealing with Your Feelings

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    Let it all out. You may think that, if you hold your feelings in, or pretend they don’t exist, that you’ll be able to get back to your normal routine a lot more quickly. While that may be true on a superficial level, at first, if you bottle up your feelings inside, you won’t be able to truly move forward. Instead, slow down, get some time to yourself, and let yourself cry, be angry, feel emotional, or just to get in touch with your feelings in the best way that you can.
    • Just taking some time alone to cry can help you feel like you’re on the path to getting better. Though no one likes crying, this is perfectly healthy and can help you express your emotions.
    • That said, not everyone cries after the death of a loved one. If you’re not crying, this doesn’t mean that you don’t care about the person who passed away; it just means that you’re dealing with the situation differently. Don’t feel guilty for not crying or force yourself to do something you don’t want to do, or don’t feel ready for.
    • You can let your feelings out when you’re alone in your room, or even by talking to a loved one about what you’re going through. You can decide what makes you feel more comfortable.
    • Writing in a journal during a time of sadness can also help you feel more centered and more in control.
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    Give yourself time to grieve. After you let all of your feelings out, it’s important to recognize that yes, you are experiencing grief. Grief takes time to process, and when you’re grieving, it’s likely that you won’t be able to enjoy many of the things that normally make you happy. You may want to stay in instead of going out with friends. You may be able to barely muster a chuckle over your favorite hilarious TV show. You may look at your textbook and think all of the words are blurring together. Accept that you’re going through a difficult time instead of trying to move on too fast, and know that it will get better.[1]
    • If you need to take some time off from work or school to deal with this difficult situation, then that’s perfectly natural. It can be hard to go through the motions when you feel so devastated; others, however, find comfort in their old routines. It’s important to do what’s best for you.
    • Don’t force yourself to be social. You may not want to hang out with your usual group of friends or to go to a big party. Though you shouldn’t completely isolate yourself, you shouldn’t go out there with a big fake smile on your face when you’d rather be curled up into a ball at home. [2]
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    Get some support. Though spending some time alone can help you process what happened, you don’t want to be in that state forever. If you want to go on living when someone you love dies, then you should make sure you have a shoulder or two to cry on; talk to your friends, family members, or even people in your extended social network if you can’t find anyone closer, and let them know that you’re going to need some help during this difficult time.
    • Don’t feel like you’re burdening your friends by being sad all of the time; they care for you and expect that this is exactly how you will feel. If you don’t want your friends to be near you during this difficult time, then what are they for?
    • Of course, you don’t need your friends and family to be near you 24/7 during this time and may even prefer to be alone a lot of the time. However, you should still let them know that you’d appreciate it if they were there when you needed them.
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    Don’t force yourself to be tough. Some people have this idea of people who are going through grief as being these strong, admirable creatures who impress everyone with their composure and dignity. Well, sure, some people who deal with loss may be like that, but you may have seen many of them on TV. Don’t force yourself to act like everything is “fine” and that you’re having no trouble moving on. Though you don’t have to cry in public if you don’t want to, you shouldn’t try to make everyone around you think that you’re tough, either.
    • Remember that your friends and family members care about you. They want you to be honest and open with them, not to to try fool them with some tough exterior.
    • Dealing with pain and loss is enough of a struggle; you don’t need to make your life more complicated by also pretending that you’re doing just fine.
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    Don’t bother trying to stick to a timeline. Though you may think that you should be “fine” and ready to move on after a certain period of time just because that’s what you read someone or because that’s how long you think it took for your best friend to get over the same loss in her life, you should throw any ideas of a timeline out the window. Don’t force yourself to feel “fine” by a certain date or you’re just liable to get frustrated and to feel disappointed in yourself for not following through.[3]
    • This is the time to be generous, not strict with yourself. Don’t tell yourself that you have to act a certain way by a certain time and focus on healing from within instead.
    • Don’t compare yourself to how other people have dealt with loss. Your best friend or cousin might have put on a sunny exterior after a loss after a short amount of time, but you don’t know what they were going through on the inside.

Part 2
Seeking Support

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    Spend more time with your friends and loved ones. In your time of need, your friends and family members can give you the support you’re looking for. Whether you’re just watching a movie with your family or telling your best friend about all of the sadness you’re feeling, making sure to connect with your loved ones can help you be on the way to moving forward with your life. You can’t stay trapped inside your own head forever or you won’t be able to start enjoying your relationships again.[4]
    • If you lost a family member, then spending time with other members of your family and sharing your memories of the person you love can help you feel less alone. Remember that you don’t have to avoid talking about the person you lost to move forward.
    • When you spend time with your friends, you don’t need to go out to bars or big, loud, parties; just grabbing coffee with a close friend, going for a walk, or watching a lighthearted movie with a close friend can help you move toward the path to healing.
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    Consider going to a support group. Being in a session with multiple people who are dealing with similar experiences can make you feel less alone and can help you find new ways to cope. It can also open you up to new relationships and can help you feel less alone in your struggle to move forward after losing a loved one. Having a support group to go to at least once or twice a week can give you something to look forward to and will make you feel like you have a new support system.[5]
    • Tell yourself you’ll at least give it a chance. Don’t judge what a support group is until you’ve met the people there and have heard their stories. You may find that you feel even more comfortable sharing your story with new people who are going through the same thing.
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    Find comfort in your faith (if you have one). If you do believe in a religion, then you can help yourself go on living by spending more time in your faith-based community. Whether you spend more time at your church, synagogue, mosque, or another religious establishment, you’ll be able to not only find comfort in your faith but to spend more time in a community of like-minded people who truly care for one another.
    • Even going to your religious establishment just once a week can give you something positive to look forward to in your routine.
    • Your faith-based community may also alert you to more events, such as volunteering opportunities, which can help you spend your time in a productive way.
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    Consider therapy. Though therapy isn’t for everyone, you shouldn’t rule it out before you give it a chance. If you feel that you’re having trouble coping on your own or with friends and family, then your best bet may be to get the help of a knowledgeable professional who can talk to you about your feelings and mental state and can recommend the best course of action. Therapy or grief counselling can help you get a new perspective on your situation and to find new ways to get help.
    • Don’t think that you’re admitting weakness by seeking therapy. In fact, quite the opposite is true; you’re showing strength by being comfortable saying that you need more help.
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    Consider getting a pet. Though you may think it’s silly to get a little cat or a dog during a time of great loss, it can actually improve your mental state quite a bit. Having a beloved pet can give you someone to cuddle and spend time with as well as someone who needs you to take care of him; this can give you a sense of meaning and purpose. Of course, getting a kitten won’t bring your beloved mother or father back, but it can help you to go on living.
    • Go to an animal shelter to bring home a rescue animal. You’ll feel even better for bringing home an animal who really needs your love and care.
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    Don’t get discouraged by people who don’t know how to help. Unfortunately, not everyone will be able to make you feel better, and some people may even unintentionally make you feel worse. People may say things they don’t really mean because they think it’ll make you feel better or because they think it’s what you’re supposed to say, and it may come off the wrong way. Try to let these people know how they could be more helpful or even steer them in the right direction, or just try to spend as little time with them as possible if they’re really bothering you.
    • People may do things like compare your loss of your closest relative to the loss of a casual acquaintance or distant cousin; they may say, “He’s in a better place”, or they may even say that it took them “a few weeks” to get back into the swing of things after so-and-so died. People may not mean to be hurtful and just want you to feel better, even if they have a poor way of expressing it.
    • Remember that, if you’re spending too much energy being frustrated with people who don’t know how to help, it may just be that you’re taking all of your negative energy or sadness out on the wrong situation. It’s natural that you’re feeling frustrated, but make sure you don’t take those feelings out on the wrong people; it’s just not worth it.
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    Don’t force yourself to fake a smile. As you continue to move forward and to spend more time with people out in the world, don’t force yourself to be cheerful, extra friendly, and super peppy if you feel like crying on the inside. While you may want to hold off on showing the extent of your sad feelings in public, you certainly shouldn’t try to fake the fact that you’re going through a difficult time. If you try to convince your friends and family members that you’re “just fine,” then it’s likely that they will be able to tell that you’re bluffing pretty fast.
    • It can be exhausting to put up a cheerful front if you’re not feeling your best. Exerting this kind of energy in a false way can actually make you feel much worse.

Part 3
Moving Forward

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    Avoid making big life decisions right away. You may feel like the death of your loved one has made you realize that you need to quit your job, sell your house, or move immediately, but you should take some time to think before you make any big decisions. You don’t want to make a decision and then have to deal with regretting it while also coping with your grief. Instead, make sure you give it at least a few months, think about it with a clear head, and talk it through with some friends to make sure it’s really the best choice for you.[6]
    • Though you may think that making a big decision or getting rid of what you see as unnecessary baggage in your life can make your burden lighter, chances are that the decision will give you more to deal with during a difficult time.
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    Continue taking care of yourself. Though getting 8 hours of sleep or eating cruciferous vegetables may be the furthest thing from your mind when you’re coping with grief, if you want to be able to go on living, then you have to remember to take care of yourself. Staying as healthy as you can will make you feel more physically and mentally tough and can make you feel more capable of dealing with the challenges life has thrown at you. Here are some things you should make sure to do:[7]
    • Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep and go to bed and wake up around the same time every night
    • Eat three healthy, balanced meals a day that include lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, and healthy carbs.
    • Pay attention to your hygiene. It’s important to shower, bathe, and groom yourself regularly so you feel more ready to face the world.
    • Get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day if you can. Even going for a walk instead of driving can help you get your adrenalin pumping and can make you feel more mentally and physically sound.
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    Slowly become more social again. As you begin to feel like you’re moving forward, you can let yourself get out of your comfort zone a bit more. Instead of just spending time watching TV with your friend, venture out to a restaurant with a friend or two, or even go to a small party if you’re feeling up to it. Though you don’t need to force yourself to go out there before you’re ready, once you’re feeling antsy by yourself, it can help you to spend more time connecting with people.
    • You don’t have to fill your social calendar with a million different events. In fact, it’s important to continue to make time for decompressing and reflecting on your own.
    • If you’re normally a social drinker, you should avoid alcohol until you feel more emotionally stable. Alcohol is a depressant, and while it may numb the pain at first, it can actually lead you to feel more sad and unstable after you’ve had a drink or two. Don’t let your friends pressure you into drinking if you’re not ready for it, either.
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    Pursue your hobbies and interests. Once you begin to gather your strength, you can go back to doing the things you love and the things that make you happy. Though you may not feel like watercolor painting, doing yoga, or playing guitar, at first, you’ll find yourself missing out on your favorite activities little by little. Set aside at least a few hours each week to do the things you love and let yourself get immersed in them.
    • Though you can’t distract yourself away from your pain forever, devoting yourself to something you care about can help you heal faster than doing something that numbs your mind, such as watching reality TV. Of course, though, there’s room for both, and if you’re not up to doing something you care about yet, be patient with yourself.
    • If you feel like you don’t have anything that you really care about, you can think about finding a new passion and throwing yourself into that.
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    Continue to pay tribute to the person’s memory. Just because you’re getting back into the swing of things, it doesn’t mean that you have to completely forget about the person you lost. You can still honor the person’s memory by talking about that person with loved ones who cared about him, visiting his grave, looking over photos or prized possessions that remind you of him, or just taking contemplative walks and thinking about that person. This can help you come to terms with the fact that the person is gone, while also keeping the person’s love alive in your memory.[8]
    • If it’s too painful for you to think about the person right now, then you can wait until you feel more comfortable.
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    Find the joy in life again. This step may seem like it’s the hardest to achieve, but you will be able to do it. This doesn’t mean you have to “find closure” or stop thinking about the person you love in order to be able to find the joy and happiness in your life again. Once you feel like you’re on the path to healing, you can begin to appreciate anything from a beautiful sunset to a long night spent with a good friend. You may feel like it’s impossible to do this from where you’re standing but one day, you’ll be able to go on living when someone you love dies.
    • If you take the time to appreciate the little things, from the loving touch of your kitty to an amazing home cooked meal, you’ll be moving toward not only living your life again, but to living it to the fullest.
    • Be patient with yourself. Things will seem drab, dark, and hopeless for a long time. But as long as you make the effort to move forward and take care of yourself, you will be able to feel joy again.


  • Sometimes, you have to cry it out.
  • Talk to someone you love and find out that there is always someone out there that feels the way you do; you’re not the only one out there that had someone die.
  • Keep your head up think good thoughts because like I said they're in a better place and one day long from now you will be up there with them.
  • Sometimes you just have to let all the sadness out, then go to sleep and wake up the next day. You will probably feel better.
  • You could also talk to a friend they can help you out a lot because they have had this happen to them before too.


  • Don't ever think it’s your fault. That makes it worse.
  • Always remember that this family member might of died but he/she still loves you and there always going to be watching over you.
  • Don’t let it drag you down so far that, that’s all you can think about and you can’t eat or sleep or anything.
  • Don't let it take over you.
  • Don’t let other family members make to big of a deal out of it to where they are going insane. Yes, they will need time to think and gather everything don’t let them think that there something wrong with the world and don’t let it change them into anything bad.
  • Do not drink any alcoholic beverage (Beer, Wine, Liquor, etc.) while being upset, drinking can increase the risk of depression or suicide.

Things You'll Need

  • Someone beside you that loves you.
  • A place to go when this gets too hard for you.
  • Something comforting to you, such as a teddy bear or something that helps you feel better.
  • A journal.
  • Something to take your mind off of it.

Article Info

Categories: Death Funerals and Bereavement