Losing a loved one is no doubt one of the toughest things a person can ever go through. When you lose a loved one, the first emotion that hits you is pure disbelief. The news of your family member/friend passing away is just so shocking that your mind completely rejects it, especially if the passing away was unexpected.
Once you gather enough courage to accept the fact that your loved one has passed away, you feel shattered and your body feels drained. The next emotion to hit you is grief. You will find it impossible to stop thinking about the person who has passed away, all the great things about them and the wonderful memories that you shared.
Grief is a Slippery Slope
Feeling sad over a person’s death is a completely natural response and there is nothing wrong with it. But, with grief, you have to be careful, because if you let it, it has the power to completely consume you.
The slippery slope of grief begins with anger. You feel angry at your loved one for dying and you feel angry at yourself for not doing enough. A trip down this road can leave you incapable of overcoming your pain and fearing making a close connection for the rest of your life.
The reason I know all this is because I have been through this. I lost my mother, my sister and my dog, all in the same year. It was definitely the toughest year of my life and getting back to normal seemed impossible. I won’t say I’m “back to normal” now but, I have learned how to live a healthy and happy life.
The Truth about Grief
The thing about grief that no one really likes to discuss is that it never ends. The pain never goes away. All those wonderful memories you had with your loved one still hit you, years after their passing away. Once you lose someone close, you can never really go back to how you were before losing them.
The only way to overcome grief and pain is to go through them. Of course, there are a few things that can help you heal better. These great ideas were shared with me by the folks working at Eastern Memorials and now, I’m sharing them with you.
Honor your Loved One
Honoring a friend or family member has been proven to help bring closure and enable the deceased’s loved ones get through the loss. How you honor the deceased is entirely up to you, there is no wrong and right when it comes to love.
Usually, people like to honor the deceased by writing a eulogy that talks about their achievements and the great familial bonds that they helped create. An alternative to honoring a loved one through a great eulogy is, choosing a piece of poetry, that you know the deceased would have loved, as their epitaph.
Needless to say, some people choose to write their own eulogy and epitaph and if your loved one was one of them, you can honor them by fulfilling their wishes of having their handwritten eulogy and epitaph printed.
A nice alternative to that would be to honor a person by having something long-lasting named after them. It can be anything; from a building or a school library to a bench in the park; what matters is the sentiment.
Learn from the Greats
Religious or not, no one really knows where the deceased’s soul departs to. Religion can provide guidance on death and sorrow and if you feel your faith is the shield that will help you get through the pain, go with it.
But, for those who are not really close to religion, there is plenty of guidance to be found from the great authors of past and present eras. Just like us, authors have gone through the pain of losing someone close too. And luckily, many of them decided to write a memoir on their pain and fight through it.
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, A Grief Observed by CS Lewis and A Widow’s Story by Joyce Carol Oates are all great books where the author discusses their grief and what they have come to understand about it.
For those who like novels more than memoirs, Looking for Alaska by John Green and The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson are two of the most wonderful novels that deal with death and its effects on close ones.
Keep your Loved Ones Close
When struck by grief, shutting yourself off and giving up on socializing is a natural response. But, if you want to get through the pain, you should be doing the opposite. It’s quite likely that a close friend or family member will offer to stay over for a few days so that they can support you; never refuse such an offer.
Just because the loss hurts you the most does not have to mean that you must fight through it all alone. It is important that instead of keeping all our pain inside and not talking about it we tell all about it to someone who understands. And, it’s not just about talking, the company of someone, even if you sit quietly the entire time, will help you heal.
If you don’t have someone close who can be there with you whenever you feel like crying or want to talk about the deceased, you can always go see a grief counselor.
And, if, talking about your grief all the time is too much, joining a support group can work wonders for you because in a support group, you only have to talk when you truly want to share.
When you’re not talking, you can just listen to other people share their pain and talk about their fight through it. This is how a support group works; everyone tries to feed off of each other’s motivation and optimism.
Updated: April 3, 2019