Silently he lurks in the shadows of your life waiting to creep out of the thick fog in which he resides.
Always eager to remind you of the fragility of life. He grips onto and now owns a piece of your heart that no other thing will ever touch.
When he arrives you are locked in an emotional vertigo as you try to fight him off. Your world is turned upside down, yet, the rest of the world carries on unaware of your pain.
Grief stabs like no other pain ever will. He reminds you of words not spoken, unfulfilled dreams, unkept promises, unfinished business.
He wreaks havoc over family traditions, family dynamics and your life rhythm sending you on a unsettling and seemingly unending roller coaster ride.
He challenges you to cling onto your loved one. So you cling to memories, photographs, video clips and their “stuff”.
There’s a deep sense of loyalty and an enduring ache that stops you from letting go of the material possessions and objects your loved one left behind and now keeps them anchored to your life. Somehow there is a fear that if you let these things go you will release that person from your life forever.
I’m not sure if my (or your) loathsome companion Grief is ever going away, I do know that I now recognize him when he crawls out of the fog.
I know what it feels like when he throws his uncomfortable gloomy cloak over my life. And I know what I have to do to nurture myself when I feel the horrible darkness he brings.
The times I see and feel his arrival is when we approach events such has my sons birthday, Mother’s Day, Christmas and the anniversary of the day he died. These times bring on a surge of memories and emotions that have become a calling card for Grief.
Although Grief is painful, it also teaches us how to live differently. The fragility of life itself allows us to live in a state of gratitude for life and those we love.
I know it will get easier as the years go by as I’m now able to recognize when my unfriendly companion Grief comes out to play. I also know that the day will come when I’m able to look at Grief and say, “Oh, it’s you again, okay, let me make some coffee and get a box of Kleenex, then, let’s do this.”
How to cope with your grief:
Although we each manage grief differently, here are some things that you might want to try to manage your feelings of loss.
Develop new traditions to honour your loved one during major holidays and significant dates.
Have a special place to go to and remember your loved one.
Become self aware so that you can recognize the trigger points, days and events that cause you the most pain, and, develop strategies to nurture yourself during those times.
As painful as it might be, the rest of the world will continue to spin. Reach out to people or groups that understand your grief.
Find a way to memorialize your loved one, For example; a bench, a tree, an annual event, a annual scholarship in their name or a donation to a cause they loved.
Meditate and journal to help you understand what you’re feeling.
Keep momentous that hold positive memories.
When you’re ready, pass your loved ones personal items, such as clothing, sporting equipment, technology, etc..on to those that need and will appreciate them.
Don’t try to “get over “ the loss. You won’t. But you can manage it.
Make it comfortable for other people to talk about your loved one. I love talking about my son. Sometimes when you lose a loved one your family and friends don’t know how to bring them up in a conversation or don’t know if they should. So make it easy for them.
Don’t be angry with people that don’t know how to support you. They may be as confused as you are. Love them and forgive them.
Manage how much you take on during specific periods, such as Christmas or their birthday and pace your social activities.
Acknowledge what you’re feeling and don’t apologize for it.
Be good to yourself.
If you know someone that’s grieving you can support them by;
⁃ Asking them how they are, then, listened. Don’t offer fixes, advice or tell them how to feel. Just listen.
⁃ Respect the person’s grief process. You don’t have to understand it.
⁃ Expect emotional swells at certain points in the year.
⁃ Ask them what they need.
⁃ Refrain from saying things like. “Your loved one is in a better place “Or “At least she or he is no longer suffering.” Or “Gee you seem off”
⁃ Try saying things like: “This must be a difficult time for you” or “How can I help you” or I’m sorry you are feeling this pain.”
⁃ Don’t judge, don’t analyze or compare their grief process to yours.