Dos and Don’ts of Coping with Death

grave with flowers

The uncomfortable subject

Death isn’t easy to discuss. It isn’t easy to plan, console, or cope with. And unfortunately our society continues to perpetuate the difficult emotions and taboo of death. It’s not easy to know what to say to those grieving and when we are grieving ourselves.

Do you joke? Do you be blunt? We aren’t taught in schools, and it’s rare for parents and loved ones to guide is in the touchy waters of death and grief.

Ideas to Take the Taboo Away and Focus on Coping

This seems the right time of year to write about death. In the dark of winter it is easy to let emotions not fully dealt with creep to the surface and force introspection. Not only that, but death seems more prevalent. Having lost my best friend December 2, 2016, I am still coping with the aftermath of that loss and emptiness. It will take time, and while I don’t like to admit it, I have changed as a person because of that death. Here are just some ideas I have for coping and responding to death and loss.

  1. Give yourself time. And space. Telling yourself to get over it or forcing yourself through the grieving process can be more damaging over time.
  2. Mirror those grieving. It is difficult to respond to the news of death, but reading the grieving emotions, rather than imposing your own life view, can be a better reaction. Don’t tell me “that’s life” when you hear I am coping with death. Don’t tell me God has a plan, and things all work out, and we all move on. Fuck you. Don’t talk to me at all if that is all you have to say.
  3. Honor the dead. Do not shove them away, do not hide them. Celebrate their life and what it meant to you, and offer the same for those grieving their lost loved ones.
  4. Do not fill the void. With food, drugs, alcohol, a new pet, anger. Understand and appreciate the void. I believe there is something to be said for reveling in hurt and pain and understanding why it is there before you can move on.
  5. STOP making death taboo! Don’t hush it, don’t silence children asking questions, and stop calling it morbid, dark or weird.

What other successes have you had in coping with death? How do we make it more comfortable as a society to talk about?