BY ANDREW MCDONALD
THE SADNESS of a loved one’s passing is an unwelcome visitor for all of us at one time or another. The cycle of life dictates that those we cherish will eventually leave us, or us them. Just as there are countless ways this can happen, there is a myriad of ways of coping and moving forward, no matter how difficult that may be.
Of great importance is the recognition that everyone grieves in their own way. Equally fundamental is understanding that no expression or manner of grief, as long as it remains respectful, is wrong. For some, tears come immediately, others find solace in remaining stoic. Whilst many people find comfort in staying with the body, for others this can be so overwhelming it threatens the wiping of happy memories. Although it can be difficult, try to understand that just because somebody might act very differently to you, this doesn’t mean their pain is any greater or lesser, it’s just different.
Particularly if you were extremely close to the recently deceased, you may find relatives and friends are reluctant to leave you alone. Even these acts of kindness can feel like too much because you need moments of solitude to process your thoughts and emotions. Don’t be afraid of saying that you need some space to be by yourself.
Throughout our lives we are told to use our heads over our hearts. To be rational, not impulsive. Calm, rather than emotional. Grief is a time when the opposite is true. Emotions are high and raw. Burying thoughts and feelings risks intensifying them only for them to explode later. Don’t be afraid to express how you feel and use opportunities to talk to others who can help you. There is an old saying “what soap is for the body, tears are for the soul”. If you feel like crying, do so. It is not a sign of weakness. It is a normal human reaction to sadness.
Revisit memories at your own pace. For some, burying themselves immediately in thoughts of the past contributes enormously to their coping with and recovery from grief. For others, remembering happy times can only intensify the pain. The same is true when sharing stories with others. Trust what feels right for you.
Be prepared that grief has a habit of returning at different times, sometimes unexpectedly. This doesn’t mean that you should live the rest of your life looking over your shoulder. Simply put, it signifies that you may feel you have dealt with your mourning only for something to send you back to square one. This too is perfectly normal and not something to feel afraid of. In fact, it can be a great reminder of how much love you shared with the person you miss.
Grieving is a long, hard journey. At times, it will seem endless. However, you can and will rediscover purpose in life.