How I Handle my Grief
How I Handle my Grief
I lost my beloved mother at the end of 2017, it was one of the biggest shocks of my entire life. When my mother took her last breath on December 15th, my entire world came tumbling down. My mother was my everything, my best friend, advocate and bedrock. With my mother alive, even if I had nothing, I would be a star. I saw my mother die slowly and it took two years to properly heal and that truly scarred my soul. To know that my mother would never laugh with me again was a bitter pill to swallow. In those early days, everything reminded that me of my mother made me dissolve into a puddle of tears. It was hard to get up and face the day. Every ambulance made me jump and my heart pound. The holidays were also agonizing. With so much going on in the world with the global Pandemic, many of us will be grieving losses of people or of jobs. You will go through the five stages of grief which is normal.
People grieve differently, however let me tell you what helped me to navigate the pain:
- Know it’s okay to grieve. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Grieving is essential to the healing process. Don’t diminish your grief or pain to make others happy.
- Acknowledge your feelings and don’t squash them. When you don’t acknowledge your grief it can manifest into rage and passive-aggression or health issues.
- Remember people can say some really dumb things in an effort to make you feel better, don’t hold it against them. I have heard so many ignorant things like, “if you had more faith, you wouldn’t cry you would know she is in a better place”, “At least you spent your last few days with your loved one.”, “Are you better now?.” Many people have been trained to believe that grieving is bad and that it ends after the funeral or that grieving means that they aren’t respecting the will of God. My strong grieving made some of my family members feel bad because it made them question their own grieving for my mother. So it’s important to understand how with the grieving process being so fresh what can trigger you or others. Don’t expect everyone to have the right responses. Know when to step back and that there is no right or wrong way to grieve.
- Get support. Grief therapy/Grief Counseling. If you can’t afford personal counseling, many churches and community centers offer them. This has helped me so much. My grief counsellor acknowledged my pain and never judged me for feeling a certain way. I can tell him how upset I am with certain people or situations and he never judges me but sets things back into perspective for me. Make sure you have an empathetic listener to support you.
- Do things to make you happy. I write and journal a lot. I watch films and television shows that make me happy.
- If your grieving turns into depression don’t be afraid to try medication. A death can trigger latent issues from the past that can turn into depression. If you have trouble sleeping also don’t be afraid to ask for medical help to get you into a better place to cope. Winter is the absolute worse time to deal with a death especially dealing with the holidays. Dress warmly and keep your immune system up.
- Practise extreme self-care
- It’s okay if you tend to sleep a little bit more during this time. At times, you may feel like you are in a bad dream. You don’t want to wake up. However, don’t wallow in bed, get up and get dressed, eat your breakfast or brunch. You need your energy by eating healthy and getting enough to eat.
- Books to recommend when you are ready: The Choice by Dr. Edith Eger and Sheryl Sandberg: Option B and Life After Grief; “Permission to Mourn, A New Way to Do Grief” by Tom Zuba; “The Other Side of Sadness” By George A Bonanno and “On Death and Dying” by Elisabeth Kubler Ross
- Remember that the pain of losing a loved one will never truly go away, there will always be those moments that can set you off, however the breakdowns will be less as time goes along and you will find the strength to face life
- Know you are not alone. Everyone has been or will be touched by death or the loss of a job. This COVID situation has made many people more empathetic.
- You will find that you are more compassionate towards others who have lost someone and become resilient in the process
- Take walks to clear your mind
- Develop rituals where the person can still be a part of your life in a positive way. I have a picture of my mother in my room and I speak to her often and ask her to help me carry on and with any hurdles in my life.
- As you get stronger, know that your loved one would want you to carry on and not be sad
- Don’t allow yourself to be alone. Supportive friends and family are very important. Don’t be afraid to express if you are sad to them. You will be surprised how when you open up people can be helpful. For example, in my grief when I was at the bank I didn’t even fill out the sheet and the teller was about to go in on me, then I said, I just lost my mother and my head at times isn’t working and she said, “Aww, I am so sorry, let me help you fill this out.”
- Avoid stressful news reports, funerals and things that can trigger and sap energy. A young friend of mine died of a seizure and I went to the funeral about two months after my mother, that was a bad mistake as it triggered sleepless nights.
- When you least expect, if you are open, your loved one will send you messages and signs that they are okay from the other side
- Lean on your religious or spiritual practice. For many people their faith is tested. My mother prayed daily and went to church on a regular basis. She paid her dues and gave money to charities. I also pray daily and went to church on a regular basis, so when this happened I was left with a ‘what the heck?’ faith crisis. I continued to pray and focus on the things to be grateful for concerning the life of my mother. Honestly, the whole situation took my breath away.
- Know that even when loved ones are physically gone, memories and impact can never be taken away. They would want their legacy to be carried through you. You are their representative on earth.
- Be kind to yourself, very kind. I felt lots of guilt, like why wasn’t I around when Mummy had that stroke?. I still have those thoughts, however they come less now.
- Engage in a good spiritual and exercise practise that will heal your body and mind. I pray, meditate and practise yoga.
- Grieving and depression are two different things.
- Chose to reframe death in a way that will bring you comfort and peace.