Losing a loved one is never easy. For some, dealing with grief and loss can take years. Four years ago, when my dad passed away, grief came knocking at my door with its two cousins – guilt and regret. Guilt from the thought that I have not done enough for my dad. Regret because I did not get to say the things I wanted to say. After four years, grief, guilt, and regret still occasionally show up. Some days, they wave at me from across the road. Some days, they sit quietly beside me while I browse through old family photos.
Moving on can be difficult. The grief that ensues after a personal loss can be overwhelming. More so, dealing with grief and loss is not just about prevailing over sadness. A personal loss also means coping with change. How will you deal with the empty seat across the dining table? How will you acknowledge the void that your loved one left?
Change can stir varying responses from everyone. Thus, dealing with grief and loss is a personal journey. My personal experience in dealing with grief and loss allowed me to appreciate a number of truths. Self-help books and well-meaning advice from relatives and friends can help. But dealing with grief and loss is a road that you have to take on your own. If you are currently dealing with grief and loss, or know someone who does, I hope these steps help.
- Acknowledge the pain. Render it powerless by acknowledging its presence. I had to work through the grief by accepting that the loss left me heartbroken. I gave my heart a time to rest by giving myself a chance to grieve.
- Continue to do the things that make you happy. During low points in our life, we tend to wallow in negative emotions. Thus, in dealing with grief and loss, it is crucial to seek out things that help us appreciate life consciously.
- Keep the structure by following your usual routine. Dealing with grief and loss can shake us to our core. Losing our bearings, it is easy to sink lower in despair. Get up from that bed, put on your running shoes, do light exercises or simply walk your dog. Stay focused, and stay on track.
- Do not pressure yourself to move on. There is truth to the adage, “Time heals all wounds.” However, every individual has their own timing. Whether you overcome grief in months or years – it should not matter. You will know when you are ready to move on.
- Take care of your physical health. Our emotional and mental health gets a beating while we are dealing with grief and loss. When we are going through a lot of stress, our immune system can get weak too. Getting sick is the last thing that you need when dealing with grief and loss. So, be sure to take care of yourself.
- Reach out and seek help if it gets too overwhelming. You don’t have to deal with sadness on your own. There will come a time when you will want someone to help you process your thoughts and emotions. Reach out to your relatives and friends. You can also talk to a professional to guide you through the process.
Even though grief is a reality of life that we have to face at one point in our life, no one can ever be prepared for it. Dealing with grief and loss will always be difficult and painful. But if there is any consolation, grief is love you offer to loved ones who have passed on. As one quote captures it, “It’s all the love you want to give but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.”