You are your own most important resource for making your life work. Life rewards action. Until your knowledge, awareness, insights, and understandings are translated into action, they are of no value.

– Dr. Phil McGraw


In his book, Real Life: Preparing for the 7 Most Challenging Days of Your Life, Dr. Phil offers these nine tips for getting through a difficult time, including a time of bereavement.


1. Be patient with yourself. Give yourself time to accept what has happened. Regardless of the specific loss you are going through, expect that the day will come that you will begin to see hope again. You can survive. You do have the strength to get through this.


2. Adjust your expectations. Experiencing death, divorce, or other loss that makes you feel rejected and alone isn’t a life sentence of grief. You will emerge. But don’t put generic expectations on yourself, and don’t let others do so either.


3. Accept what you cannot change. One of the most frequent struggles you may face when you lose someone is a sense of being out of control because you are not able to control when someone leaves you.

There is a point in this process where you can and must choose to take a stand for how you are going to react to this hard hit. You must actively, consciously choose to focus on what you can change, and accept what you can’t change.


4. Find strength in others. Although it may feel like you’re all alone in your experience, try talking to someone who has experienced a similar loss or someone whose presence is a source of comfort.


5. Don’t get stuck. It’s easy to get stuck in this negative experience. Do what you need to do to help you get unstuck. This can be different for everyone. You may find help in taking up a new hobby, getting counseling, or talking to your doctor about treatment options.


6. Live wisely. There’s wisdom in that old saying about living every day as though it were your last. Nurture the relationships with the ones you love.

You have to see time as a currency that you need to spend now instead of waiting for a day that may never come. You are not here forever, and neither is anybody you love.


7. Create value from this experience. Take the time to ask yourself what you’ve learned from going through this experience. There is value in all experiences; it just may take a closer look or a little time to see what it is.


8. Think about how you will prepare for your own death. It is hard to have a family discussion about death, but it is a necessity. Be sure to have the talk with other family members when it is a calm time.

Prepare financially for your exit from this world, and prepare your children for life when you’re gone. For example, you can make videos for your kids, sharing your advice about life and what your hopes and dreams are for them.


9. Celebrate life. It’s a tragic injustice if all you do is focus on the day you lost your loved one or their illness, accident, or death. Not only is it painful, but it also doesn’t help you heal or move on.

You can and need to mourn their passing, but don’t do that to the exclusion of celebrating their life.


Victor M. Parachin, M.Div., is a grief counselor, bereavement educator, and author of several books, including Healing Grief.

Have questions?

We are just a click away!