There are many things in our lifetime that we will never fully comprehend. Losing a loved one is one of them.
Trying to make sense of how someone could be there one second - a living, breathing person who was warm to the touch, and who helped you navigate life’s many mysteries - and gone the next will send your mind into a dark spiral (if you spend too much time thinking about it).
Everyone knows the 5 stages of the grieving process: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance but what does that all actually mean? How does knowing this process help you continue living your life after someone important has passed?
The first thing any of us want to do when we’re in pain is to be on the other side of it. Dealing with pain isn’t fun, however, running away from it will only do more damage than good in the long run. It will only prolong the healing process.
You’re going to be in pain. You’re going to cry. Let it happen. Take all the time you need. When you’re ready - go through old photos, videos, and voice recordings. Being exposed to the images you’re trying so desperately to avoid will help you get more desensitized to them. It’s hard to think of the good times when you’re too busy running away from anything that reminds you of them.
You Will Have Outbursts
Realize that anything can and will trigger you into a memory of them. Even when it doesn’t pull up a mental image of them in your mind, it might still evoke a strong emotion (commonly anger or sadness).
Don’t beat yourself up for these outburst. They’re going to happen, it’s just a part of the healing process. However, you should never use it as an excuse to be cruel to others. Everything you say and do can have consequence and you’re responsible for your actions. In the heat of the moment, grief can make us do out uncharacteristic things. Decipher whether it was grief or a desperate attempt at control. If it’s the latter, take the proper steps to prevent it from getting worse.
Understand You’ve Done Nothing Wrong and Could Not Have Changed the Outcome
One of the first things you might find yourself doing is blaming yourself for what happened. You might think: “I could have prevented it,” “if only I paid more attention,” or “I could have done more.”
The truth is, you did what you could in that moment and ultimately, you’re not a superhero, you’re only human. You can only do so much. Kicking yourself over what ifs will not turn back time or bring them back. The outcome will always remain the same and you have to accept that unfortunate fact.
Reach Out Even When You Want to Pull Away
Having a support group is very important during this period in your life. Even sharing your loss with friends, family, and coworkers will make you realize that other people in your life have also experienced loss.
During a time where you might feel alone and like no one else could possibly know how you feel, these people can share their personal experience with losing someone and how they overcame it. Surround yourself with people who care and understand how painful this period in your life is.
Eventually you’ll realize that you’ve accepted what happened. The time frame is different for everyone - it might be short for some and take years for others. Whenever it happens, that doesn’t mean the pain will magically disappear and you’ll never mourn the loss of your loved one again. It will always be painful. Some times to the point where you will cry. But for the most part, you’re able to think about that person fondly rather than replaying a constant loop of sad memories.
Good Memories Will Come (in Due Time)
There will come a day when you look at a specific object, think of them, and smile. Impossible right? It’s not. If you’ve only recently lost someone, it probably feels like it is but eventually you’ll get there.
Life is short but the time we spend together will always be special and cherished. No one wants to leave this Earth and become a dark cloud on someone else’s life. We owe it to them to remember them fondly. Take the lessons they taught with you, don’t shy away from the shows you used to watch together, or the music they introduced you to. When you’re ready, let it become good memories.
Losing someone is never easy. Even over time, the pain doesn’t fully go away but it does lessen and it becomes easier to manage. The grieving process can be a rocky ride but always remember: you can and will get through it.
One day, you’ll think of them and instead of feeling dread, you’ll feel grateful you had the chance to know them.
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