Ten keys to improving your relationships as grief begins to wane

The importance of interpersonal relationships in the process of reinvesting in life after the death of a loved one should never be underestimated. The quality of your friendships and communication with others has a major impact on your anxiety levels, your ability to continue to process sad feelings, and most importantly, the establishment of your new personal identity.

Personal identity changes after the death of a loved one because you will have to take on some of the tasks for which your loved one was responsible. But more important than that, you will no longer have that enriching interaction. This will change you and you will have to find ways to invest your emotional energy in projects and helping others.

All of this requires good social skills when interacting with others. As is often the case, our relationships with others before the death of a loved one are often reduced due to the time we spend with the loved one.

Here are ten things you can do to strengthen your ability to interact with others and reap the benefits of strong interpersonal relationships.

1. As with any major goal in your life, start by making improving your relationships a high-priority item on your to-do list. The research is clear: good relationships will keep you healthy; You will live longer and eventually enjoy your trip again. The more you deepen the connections in your life, the more you will reduce the obstacles and pitfalls of adjusting to your great loss. But you must have the intention to grow.

2. Get into the habit of calling your friends by name. Dale Carnegie used to say that a person’s name is the sweetest sound in human language. If necessary, when you meet a new acquaintance, write their name. When greeting a person, it is especially important to use their name. “Hello Linda” is much more meaningful than just “Hello”.

3. Remember to write thank you notes and send birthday cards. Or make a phone call to congratulate him. This type of contact fosters relationships and lets the person know that you care and that you are thinking about them.

4. Get into the habit of smiling when you meet other people, even when you pass by or don’t have a chance to stop and speak. This can be especially important if you are having a bad day and feeling a bit depressed. Try putting on a big smile right now as you read this and feel the effect it has on your body.

5. Do your best to join a group or two where you will find people with similar interests. Multiple friends, not one or two, is an appropriate target. You can never have too many. Similar to choosing a doctor, if one group doesn’t cover your bill, try another.

6. Plan your week so that you have specific times to meet your friends. You have to cultivate relationships through constant contact. Call or email regularly. Playing cards, walking together at night, eating out, meeting at a gym, or going to the mall together. You must take the time and make it essential to interact with your friends.

7. Be on the alert to congratulate people you meet when you see or hear something that deserves to be recognized. It can be a piece of clothing or jewelery that they are wearing, a gesture of affection or a loving decision that was made.

8. Here’s a difficult one for many. Put into play what I have come to call the Big Three: hug, wave and smile. Every day, make it a habit to use the Big Three a minimum of three times. If you pass someone you know in the distance, the greeting and the big smile are appropriate. If you are greeting your friend, hug him (and of course, use the name).

9. Work to become a master in delivering the four A’s that everyone wants and needs: Attention, Acceptance, Appreciation, and Affection. Now there are hundreds, if not thousands, of ways to meet those four basic human needs. I love them as much as you do.

Your task is to think of the many ways you can develop specific behaviors to meet these needs in the people who come in and out of your life. Your list of friends will grow in direct proportion to your availability (remember I did not say ability, but I emphasize that it is your choice) to meet these needs. It will guarantee that you will overcome loneliness.

10. Last but not least, let your friends relax. There are few, if any, perfect friendships. People are not always loyal and true. They also don’t always step in at the right time to help. There are occasional disappointments. Don’t focus on flaws and failures. Embrace human frailty, air it out, and let it go.

An enriching community is there for all of us, regardless of where we live or whether we have moved and are starting over. It just takes determination and a little courage to find it. There are many caring and generous people that you would want as friends. Persist in searching and you will find them. So decide that you will become an expert in the 4As and believe that you have the power to build a life of strong connections.

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