Loss is arguably one of the toughest things we’ll face, but it gets better with time, really.
More importantly, no one has it 100% figured out.
Any expectations on “how to grieve” set by yourself, others or society should be let go. Process in a way that feels real and true to you…regardless of any perceived norms.
A new normal
I learned what grief was in June 2018, the month of my mom’s passing. Up until then, I’d experienced loss. But grief didn’t hold any real meaning until that moment.
For those that can’t relate, it’s hard to put into words, but imagine half of everything about you (personality, thoughts, memories, etc.) disappearing in the blink of an eye.
I thought that was it: this was the “new” me for the rest of my life. Then two months later, I started therapy.
As with all things, therapy isn’t for everyone and I don’t suggest it as the key to all healing.
However, exploring your emotions as it relates to loss is important, to gain renewed clarity and perspective.
It can be in the form of journaling, reading, meditation, prayer, alone time, storytelling, “treat yo’ self” days and the list goes on. Regardless of what you decide to do, try to be consistent.
Processing your way
Over the course of about a year, I started to let go of the idea of linear grieving:
If you or someone you know is going through this, it’s okay to start out at Bargaining then move to Anger then Acceptance and back to Denial. There’s no set way to go through this and it’s different for everyone.
View these phases as touch-points, visited only temporarily, but never the final destination and usually showing up when least expected.
Once I understood this, I found that the months that followed were much easier to cope with, and actually talk about, losing my mom.
Coming to terms with guilt
“I should’ve been there more.” or “Did I do enough?” crossed my mind more times than I can count.
Personally, I realized “Yes, you did enough and could have visited more but the outcome would be the same.” Hindsight is 20/20 and it’s likely that your loss is out of your control. Try not to be so hard on yourself.
Guilt comes with losing a loved one but does not have to hold any truth or power over you.
Guilt can also show up in times of happiness or celebration. A “normal” timeline paints the picture of being sad and depressed for years on end.
While this may be the case for some, it doesn’t have to be the way for all. There’s no right or wrong amount of time to wait, it’s okay to laugh at a joke or sing along to your favorite song on the radio.
I struggled with it for so long because it felt like I was doing something wrong. How dare I experience happiness so soon after a tragedy? The answer: we’re complex beings with complex emotions.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s possible to experience happiness and be in the middle of grieving.
The idea of permanence
There’s life before and after each and everyone of us, no one lives forever. It’s hard to imagine since we’re usually consumed with what’s right in front of us, be it relationships, career, hobbies, etc.
After welcoming this truth, I became more comfortable with the idea of loss. I still don’t readily welcome it, but I’m familiar with it. Familiarity usually doesn’t associate with fear.
Do what feels natural
The ways to heal are not “one size fits all” and you shouldn’t expect them to be. You may find that a combination of otherwise random practices is just what you need to find peace with this chapter in life.
Journaling, therapy, leaning into my spirituality and learning about energy medicine opened the door for me.
I still consider myself a work in progress almost two years later.
Today, I’ve never felt more aware of who I am. Truthfully, I don’t believe this epiphany would have manifested without the loss that preceded.
This new reality will not settle in overnight, but stay your course and know that it does get better.
Eventually, we gain a different perspective on life and everything that comes with it. This is the gift that lies on the other side of grief.
If you or someone you know is struggling, reach out to family, friends or a professional for help. There are more people ready to support you than you may think. 🙂