Ten Steps in Dealing with Loss


Todd Van Beck, CFuE


  1. ACCEPT YOU’RE EMOTIONS:  Say to yourself “How am I feeling right now?” not “How should I be feeling. . .”  If you feel sad or joyful, helpless, hopeful, guilty, anxious or numb try to recognize and label your emotions.  You will learn a lot about yourself and what to expect from yourself.
  2. EXPRESS YOUR FEELINGS:  First acknowledge and accept.  Secondly do something to express how you feel.  This may take the form of talking to or crying with someone, or in solitude throwing your pillow or rocking yourself as you hold onto an object that reminds you of your lost loved one.
  3. DON’T EXPECT MIRACLES OVERNIGHT: Have compassion for yourself, your children, your family and your friends.  Don’t be too harsh on yourself or each other.  Remember grief takes time.
  4. IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN, BRING THEM INTO THE GRIEVING PROCESS.  Share your thoughts and feelings about the death as well as how you are coping with it.  Ask them how they are doing.  Periodically check up on each other.  Children need gentle structure and guidance.  They also need to be hugged and held as much as you need to hug and hold them.  You can ask them for a hug too.
  5. ESCAPING INTO LONELINESS IS DIFFERENT FROM BEING ALONE.  Are you hiding?  Do you think your grief should be private and therefore you shouldn’t “intrude” on others?  Or is it easier to sit at home alone and stare at the walls?  There is a find line between escaping and needing some private time.  You need a balance – not too much, not too little.
  6. FRIENDS ARE IMPORTANT:  Reach our, martyrdom is not a necessary part of the grief process.
  7. HELP YOURSELF AND OTHERS THROUGH SUPPORT GROUPS:  Seeking others who are bereaved takes some of the social pressure off you.  There are many support systems in the community.  Are you using them?  Have you considered using them?
  8. COUNSELING MAY BE BENEFICIAL:  An objective person who can tell you how you are doing and give suggestions for coping when you need it is really helpful.  Don’t be afraid to seek outside aid.  That doesn’t mean you’re either weak or crazy!  You’re laying that trip on yourself.  When have you most felt you needed something or someone but didn’t know where to turn?  A counselor could have been there to give some guidance.
  9. BE NICE TO YOURSELF:  By treating yourself well, you may become your own best companion.  It is important that you are aware of your needs, for nurturance or solitude, for escape from work, or for creativity.
  10. TRY TO TURN YOUR PAIN INTO A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE:  You will be stronger as a persona as you daily experience grief as part of your life.  In many a sigh is found an insight, in sorrow a jolt out of complacency.


About the Author: Mr. Todd Van Beck is one of the most sough-after speakers and educators in funeral service. He is the general manager of Forest Hills Funeral Home and Memorial Park, Memphis, Tennessee. He is also director of education for StoneMor Partners. He is dean of ICCFA University’s College of Funeral Home Management and is on the faculty of ICCFAU’s new College of Embalming and Restorative Arts.


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