Defining Secondary Loss and How to Cope with It
Posted by: Erin Ward in Grief and Guidance, Memorialization | March 25

Grieving the loss of a loved one looks different for everyone, especially since there are so many grief types out there. One type of grief that’s not talked about enough is secondary loss. 

Below we’ll define this grief type and how to cope with it or show your support. 


Defining Secondary Loss 

Secondary losses are all the other losses that come with the death of a loved one. These can be anything from physical objects to traditions that you had with your loved one. Over time, these often appear to the griever as they begin to adjust back into their daily routine.  

Some examples of secondary losses are the loss of your: 

  • Home 
  • Income 
  • Role as a parent, sibling, etc. 
  • Activities done with the deceased 
  • Sense of purpose 

How to Cope with Secondary Loss 

To cope with secondary loss, you could create a new tradition to honor your loved one’s memory. You also could create a keepsake for preserving the memories of your loved one, such as a scrapbook or photo album of the activities you did together. 

If you find yourself having a hard time completing everyday tasks, you may want to reach out to a professional grief counselor. You can check with your local funeral home for any recommendations, as well as other resources and support groups in your area. 

Don’t forget to practice self-care. Coping with the death of a loved one is a stressful and emotional experience, so it’s important to take time for your mental and physical health. You can do something as simple as going for a walk to clear your head or curling up by the fire with a good book. 


How to Support Someone Who Is Coping with Secondary Loss 

If your loved one is coping with secondary loss, there are several ways that you can support them. One is to simply be someone that they can talk to without any judgment. Listen to what they have to say, and give your advice if they ask for it.  

You also can help them create a new tradition or memento to honor their loved one’s memory. If they want to learn more about grief resources in their area, offer to reach out to your local funeral home and grief counselors for suggestions.  

When it comes to running errands and doing chores, your loved one may want help but doesn’t want to be a burden. By offering to help with specific tasks, like picking up their groceries or doing the laundry, you can make sure they get the help with tasks they need. You also could send them a care package with food, toiletries, and other necessities. 


What other ways can you cope with secondary loss? Share your ideas in the comments!

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