Everyone deals with grieving in a different way. It is a uniquely torturous experience for most, let’s face it. Grief is one of those emotions which can not be felt until it affects you personally. One cannot really prepare for its onslaught nor can it be avoided. It is simply something one has to pass through, like going through a dark tunnel. This journey through darkness, is the only way to get to another place which is bright and enjoyable again, or so it felt for me.
Grief is described as:
‘Intense sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death.’
Grief is also defined as a natural reaction to loss. Anguish, sadness, pain, hurt, suffering, misery and sorrow are other ways to describe how you might feel. It really is a very overwhelming and debilitating emotional state. The key word here though is that it is natural to feel this way when you are suffering from the loss of a loved one.
Many people face grief in shocking ways. Turning to drugs, promiscuity, a general downward slide into a dark oblivious depression. Oh yes, it can get very dark as it is such an overwhelming feeling to lose the ones you love.
Death is not talked about in our society very much. Sure we have a funeral, sure we give our condolences to people when their families die. And this is all supportive at the time and a good thing. However, like when a woman brings home a baby for the first time, everyone is there to offer support for a few weeks, and then you are left on your own to deal with a new way of life. Never to return to the way of life that you used to have. The same can be said when you lose a loved one. People rally around for a short period of time, then it really is up to you to pick yourself up and start all over again.
This can be a very difficult thing to do. And now I can understand why loved ones and partners frequently die after losing their respective loved ones.
Just before my Father died, I had a very strong feeling my Mum would also die within 2 years. This message came to me strong one morning as I walked around my local park, as if someone whispered this message into my ear. I couldn’t believe it to be honest, and I only hoped that this premonition was wrong. However, sad but true, my beautiful Mum died 22 months later, just a little short of 2 years. Maybe someone was trying to prepare me for this onslaught of death, I am not sure. Adding to this morbid tally, my sister also passed from Breast cancer in 2010 and my Aunty, my Mums sister also died in 2012, 3 weeks after my Dad. In total I lost 4 family members in four years. I knew of another four people that also had died during this time who were not related but compounded to my feelings of grief. The amount of death and grief I experienced in this very short length of time was truly unbelievable. I felt like I had lost my tribe, how could I survive without them all?
It has taken me a long time to get here, but finally I am in a good head space again. At times my grief and sadness has been so overwhelming and debilitating I could do no more than lie on my bed and cry. I cried buckets of tears. Every day the tears would come, it just all felt so sad. I cried for my loss and I cried for my beautiful parents who I would no longer have in my life. What I didn’t realise then, is that I still do have them in my life, and I always will. Their spirit and energy and vitality for life, live on through me. They were both such amazing, creative and loving people and I intend to make my life as amazing as I can in respect of their legacy. I feel so inspired to write, and record and share my story as I have learnt from such fantastic parents who gave me so much love, joy and inspiration. I dream about them still a lot, if not every night most certainly every week. If I have a problem, I simply ask them and hear what they have to say. When I am in a beautiful place, as I frequently travel, I think of them and hope they can see what I can see in spirit.
I would like to share some tips on overcoming grief. Like I said, it is an individual experience but hopefully these suggestions will help you:
1. Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself to feel and be in your emotion as long as you need to be. Each feeling will pass in time. I think it is important to immerse yourself in the grief to allow your feelings to come to the surface.
2. Try and put the real world on hold. Press the pause button and take time out from your routine. It is no longer ever going to be the same as it was before. Try and take a break from your work, and cut down your responsibilities or obligations for a short period of time.
3. Try and avoid drugs and alcohol. These are dangerous substances when used when we feel emotional. I felt like I overused alcohol to help me deal with my grief. Hence why I am taking a break from it all now. The problem mainly is that alcohol acts as a depressant so if you are feeling already down, alcohol will take you underground!
This is the effect it had on me, drinking only made me feel more miserable and more depressed, it didn’t serve to help me. It did help to create a sense of oblivion where I didn’t have to feel my emotional pain temporarily. But this was replaced with a bad physical pain in the form of a hangover. Then I would have to face my big problem of losing my family the next day. Avoiding reality works only for a short time. And then one day I woke up and knew it was time to make big changes in my life. It was time to start discovering who I was again and how my life could be amazing on my own.
4. Say yes to new things. When we are grieving we really are feeling quite sorry for ourselves. It is important that after a period of time, totally a personal interpretation, we start to try doing new things in our lives again. New things that don’t include our loved ones and hopefully new things that you never had a chance to do before. For me this became a very motivating experience. This could be anything from travelling, writing, taking up a new sport or learning a new hobby. It really can be anything. As long as it is engaging, fun and will give you something to look forward to in your life again.
5. Stay connected. For me once my parents had gone physically I really felt their physical absence from my life. But if I really sat quietly and thought about it, I could sense my parents around me at any given time. I could reach out and talk to them, sense them around me and feel their love and energy. Now you may think I am crazy, but it has really helped me. I imagine them with me quite a lot and imagine them enjoying my experiences with me.
6. Now this is a hard one, but try and let go. Kind of contradicts the last tip but stay with me. Let go of the past, let go of how you think your life is meant to be. Let go of all the expectations you had which included a future with your loved ones. They will be there for you, but not how you imagined. My parents won’t see me get married, have a baby or buy my first home. There will also be so many other milestones like birthdays and Christmas and holidays that I will have to endure without them. I have to let go of the sadness, and make way for new beginnings. It’s not easy, and never will be easy to let them go. Allow yourself to move on and create a life for yourself that you are happy about.
7. Get outside. For me being in nature, in beautiful natural environments really helped me. It was hard to feel sad when there was so much to be grateful for right in front of my eyes. Nature has a way of teaching you to enjoy the now, focus on the present and feel the joy from simple things like the beach, sun, flowers and trees.
8. Exercise. Sounds simple but it really helps. Go for a walk if you can’t bear to do anything else. The fresh air and change of scenery will really help. Many walks I have taken I cried the whole way. But I felt better for it. Once you are feeling a bit better progress to something more hardcore like running or cycling or swimming. Anything cardio will help get your body moving and clear your head.
9. Sleep. It sounds simple again but it’s a real necessity. Sleeping will give your mind time to recover and reconfigure this new program without your loved ones. I had siestas, mid morning naps, and as many early nights as I could and it all helped. At the start I looked forward to sleeping so much because it also meant I didn’t have to face my reality. Sleeping gives your mind and body time to recover and reprogram.
10. Live your dreams. Losing all my family by the age of 36 has motivated me to live my life as best as I possibly can. This means not putting things off, doing activities daily that I know will make me happy and make me feel good. And putting into action all those bucket list ideas you have had for years.
Grieving is a very personal battle, and an experience so individual it feels no one can relate. However, we will all lose a loved one, one day. So it becomes an experience we will all endure at some point in time. Death is cruel, but it teaches us to live. Life is fleeting, life is precious and so crucial that we make the very most of the life that we have been given. It is your responsibility to play the cards you are dealt; to create your own happiness and make your life as awesome as you can.
“Go by feel Merl.” – My Mum.
Thanks for reading my blog, please feel free to share with others who may need help. Now go live your dreams!