Mourning from the distance. How do you deal with a loss if you’re far away?

Duelo en la distancia

Few events are more dramatic than the loss of a loved one and knowing how to overcome mourning in the distance when you do not have the support of your loved ones, is an even greater challenge. Mourning a death is a hard phase in which we plunge into sadness, bewilderment and a sense of emptiness when that person disappears, irremediably and forever. Being aware of that loss affects our mood.

Normally, people tend to adopt one of these two behaviours: either they isolate themselves to give themselves fully to the pain, or they surround themselves with their relatives and friends who, although they do not know how to help in overcoming the mourning themselves, at least generate an emotional safety net where mutual affection contributes to overcoming each of the phases that follow the loss.

But when the second option is not possible, either because the death of a loved one surprises you geographically far away, or because you do not have a good relationship with your circle, it is more difficult to understand how to overcome mourning. Distance adds more weight to the sense of emptiness and loneliness inherent in loss and creates a propensity for isolation.

Mourning is a natural and normal phenomenon that, except in specific cases, does not require professional psychological help. You can find out from the grieving test. What the mourner does need is the closeness of other people to overcome it.

The help of a family network of loyal and understanding friends and acquaintances is essential. In this sense, knowing how to help to overcome mourning is fundamental.

How to overcome mourning in general

Sadness, fear of death, disbelief, reluctance, rage, guilt, disturbance of sleep and appetite are some symptoms of mourning. It is perfectly possible and common to overcome the death of a relative or friend, but – as we have explained before – there are two factors that facilitate it. They are the affective environment and healthy habits, to which is added the passage of time. This mitigates mourning in cases of normal mourning, although depending on the emotional impact we will find more or less long periods of mourning.

These pillars are expressed in certain activities or attitudes that put us back on track. The first thing we are going to do to try to establish advice to overcome mourning is to propose actions that happen in standard mourning, where contact with other affections is possible. Later, we will close the spectrum to try to figure out how to deal with mourning in the distance. The most important thing is that, whatever your situation, don’t demand too much of yourself. Remember that each person is unique and what works for some is not as effective for others.

Expressing feelings

One day you’ll want to lock yourself up and not see anyone. But the next day you may be willing to talk and you need to find someone to listen to you. We want to express our feelings (bewilderment, anger, frustration, mourning, guilt…) and for that, the mirror does not work, we need company.

In the quest to overcome mourning, having an empathic, patient and sensitive family and friends is fundamental to release emotional pressure and prevent negativity from becoming strong in us.

Life, which follows

Perhaps that “life goes on” is one of the most unpleasant phrases you can say to someone in mourning. Isn’t the problem, precisely, that life stopped going on for someone very dear? How can someone come to say that “life goes on” right now? That this idea is unpleasant to you and generates rejection is completely normal. Even so, it is very important that you try to deal with it, because to understand that life, yours, does indeed follow, is an unavoidable step to get to know how to overcome it.

It is normal that you want to hide from the world and have aren’t up for anything. But healthy habits and the environment force you: you must continue working, studying or caring for your own, you have to go out into the street, run errands, take care of yourself and adapt. There are commitments and responsibilities that do not wait.

The entertainment involved in facing daily obligations helps to dilute the mourning because you can not get involved in the 24-hour sorrow. You are sad, yes, but the vortex of life prevents you from constantly thinking about loss.

Healthy eating habits, schedules, exercise and work puts our emotional clock back on time. Because the world keeps spinning.

Distance, a big stumbling block

Now, how can we overcome death when we are far away? When we face mourning at a physical or sentimental distance, we lack the support and encouragement of that network mentioned above. If the mourning lasts too long or the pain is so intense that it incapacitates, we could be talking about pathological mourning, a circumstance that could lead to depression.

Mourning on the other side of the world

Living in a city far away from family can make it difficult to go through mourning. If our social ties are not strong, trustworthy and well known, as often happens with migrants and expatriates, the ability to express feelings and find emotional support to guide us to understand how to overcome mourning decreases. But it is convenient to look for that trust in those who are close by, those who know your needs and are warned about your situation.

It is also interesting to turn to the support network of mourning groups or people with whom you share religious beliefs if you have any. There is a relationship between death and religion that causes the believer to face the loss in a different way, and in this case, the parish or a priest can be of great help, people who believe in the existence of a beyond feel comforted. Generally, a support group for people in mourning will make the path of overcoming easier, because they are dedicated to helping people who are going through this, the experience is their strong point.

On the other hand, betting on technology can make a difference. Nothing brings people closer than social networks, videoconferencing and online messaging services. Take advantage of the fact that its use requires your activity (that’s where healthy habits come in): configure them, look for times to connect and even look nice for the webcam.

Mourning in the emotional distance

If in your case what you are wondering is how to overcome mourning when there is an emotional distancing, the strategy changes a little, but surely there is hope. Losing a loved one in a moment of estrangement is especially painful because it seems that there is something left to settle, an apology for giving or a pending explanation. It can be anything from a confrontation, like “I haven’t seen my father in ten years”, to an “I love you” that was never said.

That thorn can be emotionally damaging, especially when there is a sense of responsibility for the death. It is important to understand that feelings of guilt are almost always unfounded. Talking to doctors about the causes of death can give us arguments to move away from that oppressive feeling and find the keys to facing mourning despite that sense of “something to do” with which you will have to learn to live.

The death of a relative may also force us to contact family members with whom we have a conflict. Choosing between closing wounds or moving away will depend on personal and family circumstances, something you should value because it is about making mourning easier, not making it worse with arguments or reproaches. We are culturally conditioned to think that the people in our family are our support by nature, but this is not always the case in practice. In this case, it is up to you to ask yourself whether approaching your relatives does you harm or does you good and, if you see that your answer is “a bit of both,” to ask yourself if it does you more harm than good or vice versa.

There is always someone willing to listen to you

As you can see, the social environment is important in mitigating mourning. If you’re in that situation, seek support from your loved ones whenever possible and don’t let the pain cause you to hide, either physically or emotionally.

If you can’t get back in touch with family and friends if you can’t open up to a support group if you ultimately feel the pain is taking over and you don’t have any idea how to get through the mourning, ask for professional help.

If you want to improve your level of well-being, in TherapyChat we can help you. We are international leaders in online psychology and we have the right therapist for you.

Mourning from the distance. How do you deal with a loss if you’re far away?
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