Let’s begin this with seven things I learned about grief and loss after my mother died.
- People will ask you all the time, “How are you doing?” And you will lie each and every time. You will feel miserable on the inside and you will want to break down in tears. But you’ll smile and carry on like nothing is wrong.
- You will feel so very angry at the world. The world will be completely ignorant of your pain and it will flow on as if the person you cherished never even existed. You will have memories of an exceptional individual but no one else will ever no know that. It will make you angry that the world moves on. It will make you even angrier because you have to move on too.
- One day, somewhere, perhaps driving down the road or while shopping for groceries – you will realize that the person you love is really and truly gone. It will hit you so hard that for a moment you’ll feel like you can’t breathe. Your throat will start to constrict and you will cry. And if you try to stop, you’ll just cry harder. So just go ahead and cry.
- You will go to clean out your loved one’s things. Every time you pick up something, you’ll remember, “This is the shirt she wore every Christmas.” Or maybe it’ll be something like, “She really enjoyed this book.” And you will not be able to throw it away. You will try but it won’t happen. And instead, their things will remain there, untouched. You will sit in their room and remember them.
- You will see other people that were close to your loved one. They will seem happy. They will carry on with their lives and act as if nothing has even changed. You will watch them and wonder, “Do they even care?”
- You will visit your loved one’s graveside quite frequently. You will leave flowers and you will talk their tombstone. You will talk to them as if they have never left. But they will not answer you. And you will wonder, “What I am doing here?”
- You will resist the urge to seek counseling. You will fight it because you will feel that you are ok. You will think that you are strong enough to deal with everything on your own. But the reality is this – you are not ok. It’s alright to admit that you need help.
You may have lost a loved one and none of my experiences may match yours. That’s ok. Everyone experiences their grief in a different way. Some people are able to accept the loss and have a relatively short grieving period. That doesn’t make them wrong. Some people may feel a myriad of different emotions and have an exceptionally longer grieving period. And that’s normal too.
There is no time limit on grief.
Grief is an individual experience. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. There is really only one key point and that is to make sure that you handle your grief in a healthy way.
Here are a few tips to help make sure that handling your grief in a positive way.
- Acknowledge your grief. Don’t ignore what you’re feeling. Don’t try to suppress your grief. It’s easy to bury ourselves in work or go out partying every night in order to keep from thinking about our pain. But it’s not healthy. You need to reflect on your loss and acknowledge what’s going on. Otherwise, it can lead to unhealthy outcomes such as drug abuse, health problems, depression, and anxiety.
- Express what you’re feeling. Talking about your feelings doesn’t make you weak. It helps you understand what’s going on inside of you so that you can figure out how to better deal with things. Write your feelings down. Talk about them with a trusted friend or relative.
- Take care of your health. Grief makes us feel depressed and adds to our stress. It’s easy to start gorging out on unhealthy food and start packing on the pounds. Remember, life is for the living. Just because our love one is gone doesn’t mean we stop living. So take care of yourself. Remember to continue to eat healthy, get plenty of sleep, and exercise.
- Plan ahead for triggers. Usually holidays and anniversaries are triggers that send us wallowing off into despair. We might think we’re doing so well but then suddenly we realize, it’s Christmas. And the person we love isn’t there. It’s not right. And we finds ourselves drowning in sorrow all over again. I learned the hard way. It was my first Mother’s Day without my mom. I went on like normal and by the time I got to work, I had two panic attacks and couldn’t stop crying. I had to be sent home. So yes, make sure you get extra support around the holidays and anniversaries.
It’s a very hard thing to accept that death of someone close to us. It’s even harder to let go sometimes. However, don’t let anyone tell you that what you’re feeling is wrong. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you aren’t grieving “the right way.” As long you’re coping with your loss in healthy way, then there’s nothing to worry about. If you think you might need some extra help, don’t be ashamed to seek out therapy. It truly does help.
Raymonda Rice is freelance writer with a background in nursing. She is also a single mother raising a beautiful daughter. Her blog, On Writing and Other Such Things, is meant to serve as a case study to help other freelancers needing guidance.