Coping with the loss of a loved one can be one of the toughest challenges many of us will face. And when one loses a spouse, this grief can be compounded.

Although loss is a natural part of life, one may still feel overwhelmed and struggle to deal with these new circumstances. For most, the sadness will diminish over time, but taking the time to grieve is a very important part of the process.

We are naturally resilient and most of us can cope with a loss, and can, over time, move on with our lives. But everyone reacts differently to death. Research shows that most people recover from loss on their own through the passage of time, especially if they have a strong support system in place. It is important to remember that there is no “normal” time period for someone to grieve.

For many years, licensed counselors and other mental health professionals believed that grief was a process that people went through in a predictable way until they reached “closure” (closure signifying the point when you had moved on and were no longer grieving). Experts now know and understand that grief impacts each person in a unique way and coping with grief does not follow a particular order or process.

As a licensed professional counselor, I work with seniors who are experiencing loss. What follows are some strategies that I have found helpful when coping with the loss of a loved one:

  • Talk about the death of your loved one with friends and other members of the family. Let others know it is OK to talk to you about it as well.
  • Accept your feelings. People will experience all kinds of emotions after the death of a loved one and all are normal.
  • Take care of yourself. Eat well, exercise and get plenty of rest.
  • Celebrate the lives of your loved ones.

Funded in part by Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix, Jewish Family & Children’s Service offers individual counseling, referral to appropriate resources and advocacy to

Jewish people living in the Sun cities. Counseling sessions are held at two West Valley locations.

In addition, JFCS has a bereavement support group at Beth Emeth Congregation every Thursday from 1-2 p.m. This group is open to anyone who has lost a spouse within the past two years.

Counseling professionals understand the importance of your unique cultural perspective and how this can impact how you handle loss. A counselor will be sensitive to your traditions and will work with you to establish a plan that best fits your personal needs.

Grief has many possible faces and can express itself in many different ways. Remember, you are your own person with your own life experiences and relationship with the one who died. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You may benefit from talking with a licensed professional counselor who can help you cope, understand and accept your feelings, and help you navigate through the grief process. JN

For more information on counseling services or to make an appointment, call 602-452-4660. Ellie Schwartzberg is the vice president of older adult and Jewish community services at Jewish Family & Children’s Service.

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