Losing Multiple Loved Ones

Losing Multiple Loved Ones8 14Experiencing the loss of a beloved friend or family member is extremely difficult. Each of us experiences grief whether the death was expected or not expected. The intensity and trauma of losing more than one person at the same time or within a very short time frame can impact a person even more deeply. Despair and the feelings of grief can overwhelm a person and leave them floundering about even how to grieve. How can a person honor each loved one, grieve each loss, experience all the emotions of a grief cycle and get through the days healthy and whole?

The grief cycle, first described by Elizabeth Kubler Ross includes five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It has become widely accepted that these are five strong emotions or stages that a person experiences upon a significant loss. In situations with multiple losses close together, the intensity of the emotions are heightened. A person can only process so much emotion by being gentle with oneself and managing the emotions as they come. Allowing yourself to feel the denial, anger, and sadness will ultimately help you live healthily without your loved ones. You will never forget them. You will never, “get over it”. However, perhaps with the help of counselors, friends, or other family members, you can learn to go on and to find meaning and, eventually, over time the sadness will diminish.

Grieving multiple losses will take time and that time will be different for every person. It is okay to grieve one loss more than the others. It is okay to be numb for a while. It is good to find ways to express your anger and sorrow. It is important to be gentle with yourself and to let the stages of grief ebb and flow through you for each of your losses. A few ways to manage your grief are listed below. These ideas are for after the funeral when everyone goes back to their daily schedules. They are stated simply, however, they are not simple. Grieving is a complex process and different for everyone. Pick and choose any of these ideas that sound right for you and just let the rest go.

  • Memorialize each person you lost in a special way: create a photo album of each person, write a goodbye letter to each person, establish a place in your home to display pictures

  • Conversely, you can establish a room free of memories where you can rest and relax without constant reminders of your loss.

  • Join a support group online or in person.

  • Journal about your losses. As feelings emerge about each person, don’t hold them in. Let your writing express your anger, sorrow, acceptance, thoughts, and ideas as you go through the grief process. When you look back you will be able to see the progress you have made in grieving your loss. Journaling can be a temporary help or it may help you in the long-term. Some people will journal or write letters or poetry in the immediate aftermath of their losses. Some will journal for months or even years following their losses. Find what works for you. 

  • Take a pillow and hit the bed again and again! This can help with the anger stage. Be sure to never hurt yourself or others when the anger rolls in. Exercising in any form such as throwing balls, playing tennis, running, walking, hitting the bed with pillows can all help release the pent up anger that comes with grief in healthy ways.

  • More ideas on managing grief can be found here.


Taking care of yourself by exercising, eating right, and being active are all steps that will help you get through this intense time of sorrow. Reaching out to friends and family on the good days will also help on the bad days possibly preventing you from getting caught in the depression stage of the grief cycle. Most importantly, remember grieving is a process. Let yourself go through the process at your pace, in your own way, and eventually, you will feel better.