Whether you’re sad, angry, scared, or numb, your emotions are valid. Dealing with the death of a loved one is a very personal experience, and it doesn’t follow any rhyme or reason. There will be days when you’re perfectly fine and days where every moment reminds you of what you’ve lost. Let yourself mourn, and then let yourself be happy. There’s no set timeline to follow, so take the time you need.

If you’re reading this, it’s likely you are looking for some guidance. Start with these three main guidelines:

  1. Treat Yourself With Compassion
  2. Seek Support
  3. Slowly Discover what Your Healing Process Needs to Be

Treating yourself with compassion means forgiving yourself for the times you break down and the times you laugh or smile. Often, noticing a moment that isn’t filled with grief can make you feel guilty. Give yourself grace and allow yourself to feel it all. Recognize your emotions in the moment and practice mindfulness and self-love.

Seeking support is crucial. Losing a loved one is not a burden anyone should shoulder alone. Lean on your loved ones and reminisce with them about the good times you had in the past with the one you’ve lost. You may also consider speaking with a grief counselor or joining a support group where you can be honest about your emotions and talk with those who truly understand.

As you discover the ways in which you can begin to heal, make your needs a priority. Grief often makes us feel too despondent to do daily things, such as eating and bathing. This is a normal reaction. Still, making yourself get up to do these things will help you heal. Drink plenty of water and make self-care a priority for a while. It’s these tiny bits of normalcy that will lead you towards the path of healing. This will also ensure you don’t do yourself any harm during your periods of grief.

Above all, allow yourself the time you need to process this change. Many people talk about the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. What few people mention is that these stages don’t always happen in that given order, nor do they each last a set amount of time. You might cycle through them more than once or skip a stage altogether. It’s important to remember that your grief process and emotions are valid, even if they don’t match someone else’s. This is your journey, not theirs.

If you’re someone who likes to process emotions in a tangible way, it’s a good idea to start journaling or creating art. You can even volunteer and channel your loss towards something that helps you heal while doing good within your community. Staying busy and not wallowing in your grief will help you in the long run.