Tips for Coping with A Loss
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Common Reactions

Although each person deals with serious injury and death in his or her own way, almost everyone will experience certain reactions. We have listed those that are most common to help you understand your potential responses to the tragedy, and to make you aware of how normal and expected these responses are. This list is not designed to substitute for the services provided by a mental health professional, but rather to help you understand the range of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that you may experience, and to help you know when to seek professional support.

Tips for coping with your loss

  • Address problems one at a time, prioritizing for importance.
  • Don't make any major decisions for at least six months, as you may not be able to make the best decision when you are dealing with so much grief.
  • When you have the opportunity, allow yourself to feel the sadness and grief over what has happened. Talking to others about how you are feeling is helpful.
  • Try to keep in place routines such as regular meal times and other rituals. These will help you feel a sense of order.
  • Healthy practices such as eating well and getting enough sleep are especially important in time of high stress.
  • Take time for yourself, and don't blame yourself or others for whatever reactions or emotions you may feel. This is a life- changing experience, and no one can expect to recover overnight.
  • If you think you need legal advice, contact a reputable attorney. Take adequate time to make decisions about insurance settlements, legal actions and other matters that may have long term consequences.
  • Expect strong feelings to return at the one-month, six-month, and one-year anniversaries of the disaster, as well as on special occasions and holidays. Try to spend these occasions with understanding family and friends rather than being alone.
Mourning a loss and healing the emotional wounds generally takes at least one year, and in most cases may continue for several more years. Mourning may be delayed if there are prolonged investigations, lawsuits or criminal trials. Often close friends and family may not understand your grief or your need to talk about your loss, or the time it may take for you to recover. Try to find a support group or mental health professional with a specialty in grief and loss to help you through this difficult process. If you feel your symptoms are not improving over time, and are concerned about your ability to recover, please contact the American Red Cross for a referral to a qualified mental health professional or support group.

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