So, I have been hardly existing in the world lately….let me explain why. On the 31st of March, I got a call at work. It was from my sister saying that my father had passed away. This was incredibly unexpected and shocking. So, I have spent the last few weeks trying to cope with this “change” and move on with my life. I saw a grief counselor last week and found out that I am dealing with much more than my father’s death. I lost my mother when I was a young teenager, also unexpectedly. So here I am, in my mid-20’s and an orphan. This may be the hardest for me to cope with right now. I have feelings of being so alone and helpless. As I talked to my therapist, he made me realize, that I am not just dealing with my father’s death. Right now, I am really dealing with the death of both parents. I am forced to deal with not having a parent now. He also made me realize that yes, I am grieving the death of my father, but the real pain lies with the death of my mother. I started crying during this part of my session because he was right. I miss my mother dearly and hardly think or talk about her because it always hurts so bad. She just got pushed back into my memory because of the pain that comes from missing her. He made me understand that this is okay though. I was a teenager and didn’t know how to deal. Now, I must deal with it and not be scared of memories about her. I must also deal with the death of my father. So, as you can see, lots on my plate right now. With this being said, I am learning quite a bit about grief. So, if you are, or know someone, going through the loss of a loved one, this may be for you. Following are what I have learned through this process:
1. Do NOT tell the person grieving that things will be fine or okay. Things won’t be fine or okay. A loved one died and is never coming back. You are left with only memories of them. There is no more talking to them, smelling them, or feeling them. They are simply….gone. It’s not okay. You will always ALWAYS miss them.
2. If you are helping someone who is grieving, do NOT get offended by anything they say or do. This person is going through A LOT. They might not be eating or sleeping. They are just surviving. They may say offending things or be mean without realizing it or being able to fix it. Don’t fret about it. They are trying to heal themselves.
3. Silence is okay. There is nothing wrong with silence. The person grieving just needs to know that you are there for them, that you support them, and that they are loved.
4. Sometimes they just need to talk about who they lost. All that is going to be on their mind is the person that died. It consumes almost every thought. Let them talk about it.
5. If you personally have not lost someone you love, do not give the grieving person advice on how to deal with things. They might not take it well. In my case, no one I know truly understands what it is like to be 25, single, and have buried both parents. No one truly gets the pain that comes with it. If people who haven’t lost a parent give me advice, it makes me angry and say things I shouldn’t say. Usually it is, “You don’t know what I am going through.” It’s true…you don’t. So, unless you are a counselor or someone who lost a parent, best to keep your advice to yourself.
6. Grief hurts. Emotionally and physically. Your body will actually hurt. It’s not just your emotions that hurt. Sometimes you can just feel it in bones.
7. Nightmares happen. The grieving person will have nightmares about who they lost. It’s just a sign that they truly miss the person they lost. And really, it is a nightmare going on with life without them.
8. Don’t expect the grieving person to be productive for some time. My memory is completely gone. I have lost probably days of sleep since my father died. If you don’t write things down for me, forget about me remembering what it is that you want me to do. And the bills…well….they stack up on the table. You will get to them eventually….like the day before they are due.
9. Cooking will not happen. There is no energy for that. If you really want to help a grieving person out. Show up about two weeks after the funeral when all the funeral food is gone. Then make them a nice meal.
10. Sometimes all the person needs to do is exist. If the person needs to sit in silence and stare into space as they process. Let them. Sometimes it’s the best thing they can do at the moment.