When a death occurs, the bereaved person’s level of confidence takes a plunge for many reasons.
- There is a feeling of insecurity because life has been drastically altered since the death of a loved one.
- There is a feeling of helplessness because the bereaved was not able to prevent the death.
- There is a feeling of not being “whole” after a death of a loved one.
- There is a feeling of failure when the bereaved can’t seem to “get over” or “move forward” in their grief.
- There is a feeling of fear about a future without our loved one.
All of these reasons contribute to a diminished sense of worth and self-esteem.
Fortunately, there are ways to rebuild one’s self-esteem after the death of a loved one.
- Join a support group to express your feelings and learn that the emotions you are experiencing are NORMAL.
- Tell your story, recalling events that made you proud.
- Live in the moment. (This avoids feelings of shame from behavior in the past and feelings of fear of the future).
- Develop and stick to a routine. For example, if you need motivation to start your day you might have coffee, attend Church then read the newspaper. If nights are lonely, you might have dinner, go for a walk then watch a movie. A consistent routine provides stability and familiarity.
- Practice self-care by eating healthy and getting the proper amount of exercise and sleep.
- Pray to your higher power to obtain a feeling of connection and unconditional love.
- Help others. This is one of the most effective, albeit difficult, ways to improve one’s self-esteem.
- Celebrate your accomplishments no matter how small and insignificant. Examples include getting the oil changed, paying taxes, grocery shopping, doing laundry, etc.
- Participate in activities that you enjoy such as cooking, golf, gardening, etc.
- Cut yourself some slack and accept who you are and where you are! No one is perfect and we all make mistakes.
Grief specialist, Earl Grollman, tells us that “a central issue involved in the grieving process is the effect it has on our self-esteem. We become more fragile, sensitive and vulnerable when struggling with our loss. EVERYTHING seems to impact us more. A bereaved person’s confidence is often undermined. In a study in self-esteem using a scale of 100, it was found that an average person’s self-esteem was in the 70’s and generally a bereaved person’s was in the teens.”
“Understanding the impact of grief on your self-esteem may help you find ways of coping.”