How to deal with difficult times

For the bereaved

What the bereaved can do (addressing trauma and sadness)

It takes time to accept the reality you are facing. It can be difficult to get used to the situation. You may feel as if you have lost a part of yourself.

It is important to do what you can little by little every day. Everyone addresses grief and loss in their own way. The following items may help you after experiencing loss, though you don’t have to do all of them. Please look for the ones that you can do.


【1.Taking care of yourself】

  • Go easy on yourself. Don’t expect too much from yourself and keep in mind that it will take time for you to start feeling better.
  • Try to sleep well and eat three meals a day. Also, spend time with people you feel are helpful to be with. When asking for help from a person, do not think that might be a burden on him/her. If you want specific help, tell the person about it.
  • Don’t be ashamed to cry. If you want to cry, don’t hold it in, but let the tears flow.
  • If you cannot help being anxious about the future, try to think only about the current day. Just think about and spend each day at a time for a while.
  • Sometimes, little daily routines can take your mind off things. If you have to decide something, start with a small matter with a realistic goal. It is better to make a big decision after your life and feelings have settled.
  • Avoid the following acts which are known to cause long-term health problems.
    • Consuming excessive amount of alcohol and drugs.
    • Doing excessive activities. Imposing big responsibilities and roles that cause you being restless.
    • Taking actions you had never taken, such as shutting yourself away from others and retreating into yourself for long periods of time.


【2.Accept reality】

  • If you can handle the emotional strain, it may help you to visit the place where the disaster occurred, including locations you are familiar with, attend memorial service ceremonies, or talk to a trusted person about the event and your experiences.
  • Mental and physical changes that occur after a disaster are different for everyone. Some people settle down in a short period of time, while others take years. Also, emotions that have subsided over time may come back. You might think “Why now?” People adapt to new lives while their consciousness goes back and forth. There is no need to compare the duration or degree of suffering with others. It is very important to accept things at your own pace.


【3.Talk to someone you trust】

  • Memories of lost people may bring you grief now, but they are also important and can never be forgotten. It is said that when one experiences bereavement, you feel easier to talk about your feelings and memories in a way without burdening yourself, rather than locking them into your mind. You don’t have to talk about these memories if you don’t want to talk about them, but talking with someone you trust may help you sort out your feelings and change the way you react toward these hard memories.
  • After a disaster, many people cannot shake off the shocking scenes they experiences. When you talk about it, say what you want to say little by little at your own pace. Even if you recall a dreadfully fearful image, it can help you feel better to talk about whatever you can bear to talk about. Those images won’t go away from your memory, but you will eventually be able to adjust your mind in order to get used to them. If you become nervous while talking about them, take a slow, deep breath when you speak.


【4.Find someone to support you】

  • Find others who you want to be with and can help you recover from the shock, such as family members, friends, colleagues, support groups. Ask for help to do something too difficult to do by yourself. Many people are willing to help you in difficult times.
  • There is a group called “Sharing Groups (Groups for the bereaved family)” where people with similar experiences can talk and share their feelings. Letting others listen to your feelings may be a big help.


【5.Other useful things to know】

  • Stresses such as fear and sadness can result in strong physical responses. If you continue to have physical problems, ask for medical assistance. Also, try to come up with your own ways to relax, such as exercising, doing yoga, having a massage, listening to music, singing, and walking in the park.
  • Establish your own daily schedule of everyday life including the times to get up, go out, and go to bed. This is also helpful for children. By repeating the same routine, you can more or less give your mind a safe feeling.
  • Sometimes, you may direct an angry outburst at others. Angry is natural feeling after a loss, and expressing it in a safe manner is better than blaming yourself. When you suffer from uncontrollable anger, ask a trusted person to listen to your feelings. Talking about your feelings can help you control your anger a little easier.
  • Relationships with others can change significantly after suffering from a disaster. Try not to shut out your friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors too much. When you want to be alone, tell them about it and talk about securing each other’s time and space.