Death is the only truth of life and today we will be discussing how to deal with the loss of a loved one. Our transience makes us both strong and fragile. And Life, as we know it, may change in the blink of an eye. The loved ones we hold so near and dear might depart for their next journey in front of our eyes and all we can do is watch. Death is a reality, harsh yet inevitable, painful yet inescapable. The departure of our beloved leaves a hole in our hearts, avoid, which may heal with time, but the scars always remain
The breath of your loved ones stops, but life doesn’t, life redefines itself, and takes on a new normal. You had a father, now you are an orphan. You had a husband, now you are a widow, you had a brother, now you are an alone child. These changes will become your painstaking realities.
MY STORY OF GRIEF
How can I forget the fateful day when we had to bid farewell to my cousin? Having fought with an aggressive brain tumor for 6 years it was finally his time to have peace. We all watched him, outstretched on the bed, cold lifeless. His children kept calling him but he was silenced forever. Hat day is as fresh in my mind as a freshly cut wound that oozes uncontrollably. I spent the whole night awake, watching the clock tick, waiting for 11 a.m. when he was to be taken for burial. We all cried our eyes out, wailed mourned but apart from the solace of each other’s presence. We needed something more to deal with the loss of a loved one. Here is what I learned about overcoming grief from this calamity.
1- It’s ok to express your emotions
The time immediately after the loss of a loved one is particularly difficult. It just seems to stop! I remember wishing for the time to slip away quickly as time is said to be a great healer. But it seemed to be frozen. It was a time of bereavement and anguish for my sister, for her children, and for all of us as a family. But keeping emotions locked up inside can add to the emotional turmoil of your loss. It’s alright to let your emotions loose. Cry out loudly, mourn them, miss them, and talk about them. This is a good way to cope with the death of a loved one.
How does mourning help
Letting out your feelings and sharing them with those who care will lessen the gravity of your feelings. Don’t expect that if you have had a good cry, you will get over your loss. It might take days, months, or even years to overcome the grief of losing your loved one. And even then you will remember them from time to time, but the intensity of sentiments would become less. To tough it up and become strong is difficult so allow yourself to be weak, to be broken, and vulnerable. Don’t bottle up the grief, don’t let it block out the world, and don’t let it stop you from letting anyone in. Let your grief out and have faith that you are not alone in this.
2- Get out of denial
The shock of losing can elicit a feeling of denial. They cannot leave me, this is not possible, and this can’t be happening to me, this must be a dream. They are just sleeping, they will open their eyes, and they love me too much to leave. My child cannot be parentless, I cannot be motherless, I can’t be a widow at such a young age. All these thoughts plague your mind and make you restless. Although to acquiesce to this reality is an onerous task, but with acceptance begins the road to recovery.
How to cope with it
To cope with denial, it is indispensable to understand that our mind is filled with memories of that person. Even if they are not physically present with us anymore, they are present in the way we speak and think. We have to stop pretending that things are alright and face up to the bitter truth. Confront both physical and emotional reminders of that person, see their lifeless body, visit their grave, and smell their favorite scent. Cry your heart out and let others know and see your pain to deal with the loss of your loved one. Break open that impenetrable shell that you have created around yourself and let the grief wash over you. Only once you grieve, accept, and face the fact of death squarely you can come out of denial. Thus be enabled to move on in your life.
3- To deal with the loss of a loved one, Don’t feel guilty when happy
All the firsts after losing a loved one are grueling and arduous emotionally. The calendar is a constant reminder, this was the day we had our first date, this is when we got married, and that’s when we bought our first car. The flashbacks make it hard to move on, but life is a name of perpetual motion. The breaths of your loved ones cease but life doesn’t. Following the demise of your loved one, there is a feeling of guilt that washes over you. I am alive and he’s gone, how can I be happy and celebrate life without him in it? How can I survive the loss of a loved one?
How to stop feeling guilty
Such sentiments although natural, need to be addressed. In such situations, you have to give a positive tone to your thought process. You will need o to ask yourself certain questions like your wife will want you to never find love again? or your husband will not want to celebrate your kid’s achievements? or your other loved one will want you to be despondent and miserable in his absence. If the answer to your question is no, then it’s time to make some changes in your life. Let that smile lights up your face, and let the room reverberate with your laughter. Celebrate your promotion, cut that birthday cake, go out, and find love again. The one who had to leave is gone, but you are alive. They would want you to live your life to its full potential and not waste it in sorrow and gloom.
How not feeling guilty helps with grief
In the book Dynamics of Grief: Its Source, Pain, and Healing, Author David K. Switzer discusses the necessity of rediscovering one’s own life. He says that the pain associated to accept the death of a loved one is very real and needs to be felt. At one point a person will have to start living their own life. When you will make an effort to overcome the demise of your beloved, the acceptance that death is a harsh reality of life will come easier. It will also make it less daunting for you to move forward and embrace life without your loved one by your side.
4- Find a support system to overcome the grieving process
To deal with the loss of a loved one it is imperative to surround yourself with love and support. The circumstances of every person demand a different support setting as per their need. It can be friends, family, therapy, meetings, or even medical intervention.
Support of friends and family
Family and friends can act as great support systems in times of grief. When someone offers you a shoulder to cry on, don’t hesitate to take it. The support is not only emotional, but it can also be physical and financial. If a friend offers to run errands, it’s okay to say yes. If a family member offers to look after your kids, you should graciously accept the offer. This will let you have more time to tend to your emotional needs to deal with the loss of a loved one. Don’t overwhelm yourself with guilt if you have to ask for or accept help, as little drops make a river. Little help from friends and family in your time of despair, can act as solace and relief.
Seek social support
If you don’t have friends or family if you are left alone after the initial grieving time or you do not want to burden your kin anymore. If the loss of your loved one was traumatic, or sudden and nothing seems to help, find other options. You can seek social help from support groups. In your mourning period, you feel as if no one else can fully understand your loss, as they are not the ones in such a situation. When you will be surrounded by people in a similar situation or maybe worse than yours, sharing with them might bring you some peace of mind and you will feel that I am not the only one suffering through such a loss. Here are some other ways to overcome loneliness and isolation.
Get medical help
You can also seek medical help to deal with the loss of a loved one. Losing a loved one can take a physical toll on your body, you can suffer from insomnia or somnolence, digestive problems like diarrhea and other pre-existing conditions can aggravate, like heart patients can have angina attacks, and asthmatics can have deteriorated breathing. So taking care of your health, though may seem unimportant at that time, is highly essential, as it can have long-term consequences for yourself. The one who had to go is gone, but you are here for a reason. So look after yourself.
Find retreat in faith
Despite being surrounded by family and friends, sometimes, something feels amiss. The belief that God is omnipotent, what we are going through is not unseen by him, He has put us in this pain and He is the one who can take you out of it, He knows and we don’t, He knows why we were inflicted with this pain and though at that time we might not be able to see the good in that suffering if we have trust and confidence in God’s plan, we will come out of it as winners.
Take out time to pray
Some people might find recluse in prayers while others might discover comfort in doing something charitable for their loved ones. Do whatever strikes a chord in your heart. Go to the mosque, go to church, raise your hands and pray, bow your head, and cry. Find your peace in religion or spirituality or do a good deed and dedicate it to your loved one. You can donate their favorite clothes, or give out their book collection to a library or plant a tree in their name to continue their legacy for all times to come.
5- Reminisce the good memories
Oftentimes the last memories we have of our loved ones keep coming back to haunt us. The image that mostly comes to our mind is of our loved ones after their last rituals. Covered in a white shroud, or sleeping peacefully in a coffin. If they were suffering from an illness, the flashbacks of all the tough times keep haunting us. The pains, the hospital visits, and the hardships they endured are what we remember the most. These emotions are not unusual when dealing with the loss of a loved one.
But if we replace the bad memories with the good, and celebrate their life instead of mourning their death, it will be easier to overcome the grief. We can reminisce about how they led a fulfilled life, and how they enjoyed their life before the disease or accident. We can celebrate how they impacted our life, made them whole and brought positivity and fulfillment to our lives. How they taught us to live and love amidst hardships. We can chronicle our relationship with them, and make scrapbooks of photographs of the good times we shared. Tell their stories to our friends and family to keep them alive in everyone’s hearts. Write a diary of the memories of them we cherish. So even if our minds forget our eyes will not.
6- Meditate to make peace with the death of a loved one
Meditation can act as a great tool to rid yourself of some of the anguish you have been holding inside. These emotions lurk on and prevent us from healing. To meditate, sit in a quiet place, close your eyes imagine your favorite place, see your loved one sitting with you, talk to them, tell them how you feel, how you miss them, how you love them, how you would do anything to have them back with you, ask them for forgiveness or forgive them if they had asked you in their lifetime but never imagining they would leave you, you didn’t. Imagine this with all the positivity you can summon and end this conversation on a positive note.
Think of your favorite memory with them and spend time in that loving memory. Take deep breaths and open your eyes. This will surely help you to get some closure and heal the symptoms of your grief.
Be kind to yourself. Do what you think is best for you to heal without anyone forcing you to forget your grief. Be broken, be vulnerable but don’t let your grief overtake your life. You and only you can take the reigns of your life back from your grief. Sometimes our loved ones leave us suddenly and we miss saying those last words, asking them for forgiveness, or forgiving them for when they hurt us. Love, keep a pet, adopt a baby, foster a child, nurture a plant, travel the world, and complete the bucket list. Do everything that gives you a sense of being alive to deal with the loss of a loved one effectively. Celebrate your life and celebrate the life your loved one lived. Don’t let someone’s death take your life too, as your life is for you to live.