IT’S BEEN JUST A LITTLE OVER A YEAR THAT I LOST MY GORGEOUS, CARING, GIGGLY, LOVING LITTLE SISTER TO BRAIN CANCER… AND THEN MY MUM PASSED AWAY A MONTH LATER
I am still in shock – it is both completely surreal and heart-hurtingly-sad… I thought I’d share this wise advice to help anyone else who has recently lost a loved-one
Experiencing the death of a loved one is extremely personal. Each one of us responds differently to loss. There are so many variables when it comes to losing someone we love. There are many different factors that will contribute to your feelings: what your loss is, how the loss happened (whether sudden or expected), the age of the person that was lost (young lives that had so much potential as compared to a life of someone who has lived a long, meaningful life), and the depth of the relationship. The bottom line is that no matter what kind of loss you are dealing with, you will be left to manage your own grief.
Grieving is a tremendously personal journey. There are no right and wrong ways to deal with grief, but here are some ideas to maybe help you in yours.
Give yourself permission to grieve. This may sound strange, however, it really is important that you allow yourself to feel the things you feel. Everyone has their own reactions to loss. Some people want to talk about the deceased member, while others are more reserved and are uncomfortable speaking of the loved one who has gone.
This is your journey; not anyone else. Do what comes naturally for you. If you want to display photos and have a special area of remembrance for your loved one, then do it. Depending on how you like to express yourself, Facebook sometimes can be a great way to say what’s on your mind. There are times when I will go to my loved one’s page and just write her a message. Although I realize she isn’t actually reading it, somehow, to me, it feels like a connection to her.
Grief comes in waves. Sometimes, at unexpected moments, you will see, hear, or smell something that reminds you of the person and tears begin to flow involuntarily. I remember one day, I was at my desk and a visitor came by and she was wearing a fragrance that reminded me of my cousin; without warning tears just slid down my cheeks. Of course, moments like this are overwhelming and a bit embarrassing, but if you just explain that you have recently lost a loved one, most people understand. It is important to allow these things to happen. Don’t fight your feelings. Don’t be afraid to let them out. It is a form of healing for you.
Find support: There are grief counselLing places that specialise in the grieving process. These may be helpful for you. They are able to discuss things with you to help during the most difficult times. There are also groups that meet and talk together, sharing stories and experiences. Depending on what you feel your needs are, you can determine whether or not this type of interaction is something that you would find beneficial. If you don’t desire to do something on a professional level, make sure you find support in a group of friends or family. You need to have someone who understands what you are going through. You need to feel comfortable to share your feelings. I found it wasn’t necessary to always have someone say anything back to me, but just to be there to listen to me. Realize that you are not alone in your grief; there are resources to help you.
Honour your loved one’s life: There are many wonderful types of organisations that will allow you to host an event in honour of your loved one. If your loved one died due to a certain illness, find an event that would benefit research on that particular disease, while honouring your loved one’s memory. Find a local cause that your family member was fond of and sponsor an event. This is a positive way to celebrate your loved one’s life and help others in the process.
Take care of yourself: It is very important during a time of great loss to take care of yourself. Grief impacts your body in huge ways by depleting its energy and emotional resources. Listen to what your body is saying. If you need extra rest and quiet time, take it. Don’t judge yourself during this time. Oftentimes, it is difficult to cope with routines because suddenly they are different than they had been. A small task may seem daunting.
Pace yourself during this time. Don’t expect a lot out of yourself. Your body and emotions have been through major difficulty. It is common to experience sleep difficulties, concentration problems, appetite lose, and even compulsive behavior. Realise all of these are typical and there isn’t anything wrong or crazy about you. Allow yourself the time you need to mend.
Unfortunately, the death of a loved one is inevitable in life. Everyone will lose someone at some point. Understanding that you are not alone, celebrating your loved one’s life, and taking care of yourself are all important aspects on your road to healing your grief. Remember that those who have gone on are cheering us on to live a life that counts. Make each day special and leave a legacy for others to remember.