About 6 years ago I lost my dearest grandfather and brother within 3 days. If I say it was the hardest experience of my life it would be understatement. There is no word to describe my feelings at that time. Loss of any close relative is hard but losing two of the most important persons of my life was unbearable.
Considering that it was trying time my life and I was going through some major unexpected changes while the news hit me, made all that even more excruciating. The situation seemed impossible to deal with and I didn’t handle it well. As a result I ended up with deep depression which led to anxiety and panic attacks. There are a few things that I wish I had known at that time. Simple acts that could help me. This is what I want to share with you today hopping it would help someone that is going through hard time.
I know it seems rather obvious yet many, like me, fail to do that. Saying proper goodbye helps you to accept the fact that the one you love has left and won’t come back. Being at the funeral can help a lot. It lets the reality sink in and gives your mind a memory that can rely on to make the whole experience real. When my grandfather and brother passed away I could not attend either of their funerals which years later I realized that it was one of the main causes of the depression I was battling with. So to have that closure I wrote a letter to my brother and one to my grandfather. The fact that my heart felt so much lighter after I’ve done that surprised me. So I humbly ask you to say a proper goodbye to your loved ones. It does not change the facts that they’re not with you anymore but it will help you tremendously to deal with this fact.
2-Share your feeling
I didn’t talk about my feelings for a really long time. I had this idea that I need to be strong for my family and showing any kind of sadness and sorrow would cause them even more suffering. I wrongfully thought that my family had so much pain to deal with they can’t deal with my grief. So I decided that I would cry and mourn later. The truth is even my family needed to see me crying to know that I’m ok. At the time I finally decided to talk to them I realized that my parents had been so worried about me not showing any normal sign of mourning. I know it’s not easy to explain your feelings while you’re confused. Just know that it’s ok, this is what you are supposed to feel. Sharing your sadness and pain will create a bond among the family and friends that gives all of you strength to deal with this pain.
I know that it’s not what people want to here but it’s important to be selfish during this time. Your heart has been broken and you are suffering. Don’t tolerate any thing that put more pressure on you. I’m not asking you to go around and be rude or insensitive toward others. All I mean is that surround yourself with people who care. Let them to take care of you time to time. Their kindness and understanding will help you to heel. And if there is anyone who is ignorant toward you or seems not to be able to understand that you are in a difficult situation or expect you to put them and their need first, simply cut them off. If these are people that you can’t eliminate from your life permanently, at least try to avoid them for the time being. You already have enough to deal with. Those who can’t see that, don’t deserve to be part of your life.
4-Talk about the one you’ve lost
Sometimes our experiences are so painful that we try to forget it. But life doesn’t work that way. If you push back your memories they will come back and hit you even harder. Talk about whom you’ve lost. Remember good memories and share them with those who knew him/her. Treasure those moment you share and celebrate the life they had lived. It’s a great step toward acceptance.
5-Know that you are not alone
I had ignored this fact for really long time. I thought that no-one would understand me. To be honest that is ignorance. I can see it now. There are few billions people around the world, what ever I’m going through right now, someone has experienced it before. I understand that you don’t want to hear it since the person you’ve lost was very especial individual. Yet take a moment and think about it. Among all those people is it really possible that nobody has ever suffered from the same experience? No-one has ever lost an especial person? I dare to say that hundreds of thousand people are dealing with such a reality right now. You might ask how it can help. It helps since seeing this truth and accepting it will lead you to open up to others. It will help you to do all the other steps easier. Open your heart to others and people will shock you with their understanding, empathy and compassion. You have no idea until you see and feel it yourself. Majority of people are amazingly caring.
6-Moving on is a good thing
Some of us are afraid of moving on. We think it means forgetting or betraying whom we lost. Those who suffering from this guilty feeling go too far in remembering those who passed away. They dramatically try to attach any situation to their grief. They are trapped since they feel guilty to move on. In my experience you don’t need to forget someone to move on. On the contrary you can have them in your heart and your memories while you are living your life. You can even find many ways to honor their name and memories. For example through supporting the cause they were passionate about. This way you have them in your life constantly. My grandmother was a teacher. For most of her life she fiercely had advocated education for girls. To honor her memory I’m supporting two girls to go to school and I will help them to finish their education. It’s not that much yet it’s my way to celebrate my grandmother’s memory. I don’t want to brag I’m simply telling you that you can take small steps to keep your loved ones memory alive, while you’re moving on with your life. You can support a local sport team, raise awareness about an illness, help to secure the safety of your neighborhood, cook for homeless people in your town, volunteer at a retirement home, play music at kids hospital…… Whatever that helps you to feel connected to them. Let them be your inspiration.
7-Take your time
Please know that grief is part of our life, accept it and let it pass on it’s natural terms. Fighting it will hurt you mentally and physically if you continue to suppress it. Also don’t rush it. Be patient and take your time. Treat yourself the way you would have treated a friend if they were in your position. Time will help, trust me on that. I don’t claim that the pain will completely go away but I assure you one day you will learn to live in harmony with it. Take your time and be kind to yourself.
8-Ask for help
Sometimes the only way to deal with the situation is getting a professional help. Don’t be ashamed of that. You would get help if you had a heart disease, wouldn’t you? Your mental health is as important as physical health, so be smart and ask for help.
Look at it this way; you’ll ask for direction when you’re lost, won’t you? So ask for direction. People with right knowledge will help you to learn techniques and skills to manage your grief. I did that and I should have done it much sooner. Seeing a therapist was the smartest move I’ve done in term of taking care of myself. She taught me a lot including some of these tips that I’m sharing with you. I hope it would be helpful for someone out there.
Disclaimer: This is my personal experience not professional point of view.