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How to move forward after a loved one dies

You get the call, but it's already too late. Your loved one got involved in a car accident and they passed away at the scene. Maybe it's not even a call; maybe an officer shows up at your door. They tell you that they did all they could.

It's gut-wrenching and unimaginable. You have no idea where to turn or what to do next.

First and foremost, focus on yourself. Reach out to your support group -- close friends and family members. With an emotional loss like this, the only thing you need to worry about is making sure you're all right. Get the support and help you need. Take your time. It's not easy and you should never feel like you need to do anything.

Long-term, though, you do need to know how to move forward. Here are a few steps to take:

Tell people what you're going through

In America, we often value independence and individualism. We feel like we have to be strong and do everything on our own. We feel like we need to keep quiet when facing troubles and hide what we're going through. This is not healthy. Talk to people. Grieve. Mourn. Tell them what it's like and what you need. You do not have to do it alone.

Take positive actions

It's not always the best for your emotional health to sit around thinking about the loss. Try to take positive action to take your mind off of it. Take up a new hobby. Get more exercise. Read more books. Spend time with friends. Whatever you enjoy, that's what you need to focus on.

Understand that time isn't the ultimate healer

We often say that "time heals all" as if you should feel better again after a set amount of time. This is inaccurate and it can actually put a lot of unneeded pressure on you. If you still feel emotional a year or two later, do you then feel like you're failing in some way? What you need to know is that time does not always make you feel better and heal all of the pain in your life. You may always have to deal with this. That's all right. When you accept it, you can handle it in a positive fashion and with the assistance you need.

Consider your rights

Of course, you also need to think realistically about your financial situation. You may have funeral costs and medical bills to pay for. You may have lost a serious source of income or your family's only income. You may not know how you're going to pay the mortgage or make ends meet. Take the time to consider all of your rights and your legal options.

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