How to Cope With Loss, Whether You Broke Up or Lost a Loved One

Andrea Stanley, Elizabeth Kiefer
Photo credit: Art by David Stenbeck. Courtesy of Jenn Singer Gallery.
Photo credit: Art by David Stenbeck. Courtesy of Jenn Singer Gallery.

From Cosmopolitan

Hi and welcome to our How to Put Your Life Back Together series, i.e., good advice for post-pandemic times. Explore more here, or click the “next story” button at the bottom of this one.


Here, advice from experts on how to process the grief you might from feeling.

Was is a real breakup or was it just crisis collateral?

Clarity in the form of a flowchart.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

To everyone who lost someone...

You’re not imagining it: This loss feels different from the ones that hit during normal life. Here’s how to work through a very surreal kind of grief.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

If you feel stuck, don’t wait to mourn

Even if you can’t gather for a burial, even if you can’t hug your family. Because while funerals are important, private rituals can also help you process your heartbreak, according to research. That might look like making a recipe your loved one was known for or taking up a hobby they enjoyed.

If you feel alone, know that you’re not

Until you can get together with loved ones again, find community through groups like The Dinner Party, a network of millennials who are all dealing with loss. Or even just pick up a related book, like The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion. There is connection in knowing that other people have felt what you are.

If you feel rage: feel rage

Of course you’re allowed to be angry at people who didn’t properly social distance. If it helps you feel better: They, too, are grieving. Nearly everyone is dealing with the loss of something. So maybe they are a Very Shitty Person or maybe it’s just that they’re coping the best they can.

Can I keep my nightly bottle of wine, or...?

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

Some thoughts on getting back to pre-pandemic alcohol consumption.

“Alcohol in itself isn’t a bad thing,” says Liz Higgins, a therapist in Dallas, but you do need to figure out if your drinking has slipped into an unhealthy place, which is easy to do when it’s been weeks or months of just you and your laptop. Here’s a simple gut check: Is it hurting your relationships, making you less productive and more moody, or interfering with your sleep?

If no...

Okay, cool. But it still doesn’t hurt to keep your drinking habits in check, i.e., deciding to schedule meetups with friends that don’t always involve a bar.

If yes...

You may need to cutback. Start with a goal, like going dry for a month. If you’re struggling, it’s not shameful at all to call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline at 800-662-HELP to get connected to resources in your community.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned


Art by David Stenbeck. Courtesy of Jenn Singer Gallery.

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