For those of you who are just beginning your grief journey, I am here to reassure you and tell you that I understand what you are going through right this moment. I have been where you are. I want you to know it will get easier. I know this sounds untrue and it feels unforgiving but I want you to know that while you are feeling the worst pain you will ever feel in your life, at the end of this dark hole of grief there is light. While you are spiraling down this God-shaped hole feeling like nobody will catch you, I want you to know that you are not alone. Believe me when I tell you this for I have been through this tunnel of darkness and crawled out into the light on my knees. I am thankful I made it out on my own.
You feel as though you cannot go on. The grief feels crushing in its intensity, you will struggle to catch your breath as you sob uncontrollably. This is your body’s normal reaction to this tragedy that has happened to you. Seek help now. Even if you think you don’t need it, even if a loving family surrounds you. Your mind and emotions can become dark rather quickly. Talk to a grief counselor, talk to your physician. These professionals were my saving grace when grief took over my entire being. I was in a cloud of grief, unable to make my way out of the darkness until I was taught proper coping mechanisms. I found the light but it took many months of work to make my way towards it.
Talk about him/her. Then talk some more. Cry, scream. Do what you must to give your emotions air. Remaining silent is equivalent to letting a wound fester. As painful as it is to speak about the loved one who just passed it is the only way for you to begin to heal. Whether it is reliving the events leading up to this person’s passing or how you feel about the loved one in general. Talk, write it down, get it out of you. It is painful, it is work but it has to be done. Open your heart and your soul even when it aches and you will begin to see the light.
Read. I read as much as I could on grief and loss. I had to understand the “why” of it. Did I find the answers I was looking for? No, I could not and I still can never find a reason why my eight year old grandson was taken from us. Nevertheless, I found these books comforting. These books help us to cope after a death and I found the daily meditations book inspiring. A daily motivational thought to move me through my day. Grief books were the light that guided my way toward healing.
Get up and move. One of my biggest mistakes and it still is today is my isolation. As difficult as it is get out and socialize. Go for a walk, go visit friends or family, do something – anything. Grief can and will settle into depression or a condition known as complicated grief. This is a condition which significantly impairs the mental and psychological functions of a griever. Depression and complicated grief is debilitating, leaving the grieving individual to feel as though they are trapped in darkness and despair. Medical attention is required in both cases. Movement of your body is an important function in healing the mind and soul. It is painful yet it is imperative.
Be kind to yourself. Grieving is a long and slow process. Along this tunnel of darkness there are as many steps backward as there are forward. There are moments, days even when you do not want to move at all. The effort to get out of bed is exhausting. If this is as far as you can get on this day, a few steps out of your bed then pat yourself on the shoulder and accept that this may be a day when this is all you can do. Self-care can be as simple as curling up with a blanket and watching TV all day or reading a book. A day of nothingness. This is normal, this is grief. Do not be hard on yourself if you fall back into sad days. There is a reason we say grief comes in waves. There is no shame in grief. There is nothing on this earth that compares to the pain of grief, it is the very reason healing is such a slow process and moving forward is so difficult.
You will grieve your loved one for the rest of your life. You are going to hurt for a long time, this is loss, this is love. My heart and my soul ached for Konnor for so long it was and is actually a physical yearning. My eyes hurt from crying, my stomach hurt from lack of food because I could not eat, I could not sleep. My body shook with grief, I knew I would be forever changed by this loss. You will wonder how you will ever make it out of the darkness of something this horrible, this black hole of grief.
Rest assured that there will come a time when you will eventually be able to think about your loved one and smile. Perhaps with that smile you will still shed some tears but you will have made it through the hardest part of this grief journey. You will feel numb at first but gradually you will regain your footing and begin to move forward. You will inhale deeply and use every last bit of strength you have left to take the next step…
In the darkness of grief, we spend long periods of time in mourning our loved ones. I have learned that the love left behind heals and illuminates the soul. It is the beauty and loveliness of this eternal love that pulls us out of the darkness and into the light.