I have had several losses in my life and been through different journeys with grief. When grief first entered into my life, it would have been helpful if someone explained the stages of grief to me. It would’ve been good if someone just told me that grief was normal. I was doing alright. It was ok to feel all those bad feelings. I had to feel them. I tried to ignore them but i needed to go through them all – bad and good. Grief comes with no timetable. It differs from person to person. You have to be patient, and allow the journey unfold and go in whatever direction it takes you.
So what did I learn from my journey with grief?
I learnt about myself and I changed. For the better. I’ve become empathetic and kinder. I learnt that as hard as it gets, it does get easier. You don’t forget but you do learn to live with the pain.
What are my tips to help others who are grieving? Here are a few points, I think are useful for anyone experiencing grief.
It saved me. I walked for miles. It was a time when I really let you in grief. I cried, I shouted. Every step helped. It got me out of the house and gave me exercise. It allowed me to be myself. Sometimes I stomped. Eventually my step came lighter. I now take this lesson into my work by offering walk/talk therapy.
When I worked overseas, I wrote to a family member. Each evening I wrote for 10 minutes or so. At the time, I did not realise how therapeutic this was. Evenutally I turned this to writing to the deceased. When I felt lonely. I wrote and told them. It allowed me to share my feelings – anger one day, sadness the next. It helped me recognise what I was feeling. Knowing what I was feeling helped me feel better equipped to deal with the various feelings, especially through the depression stage.
3. Allow yourself to grieve.
I stayed in the numbness stage and managed to supress those feelings. I became an expert at burying them. I do wonder if I accepted those feelings sooner, perhaps I would’ve moved on quicker. It is important to acknowledge the pain. This will be the start of the healing process. It is good to read around and gain some understanding of the grieving cycle.
4. Lean on friends and family.
Friends were there to help. I rejected most help. You think they will be bored with your story but they are not. Embarrassment kept me to keep things to myself. If only I told some of the friends how lost I felt and how I was feeling. I had a lot of expectations from them without telling them what I really wanted from them. If you experience a traumatic death as we did as a family. Talk. Share. Work through that trauma together. Stop thinking you must protect each other.
5. Seek support.
Find a therapist. Counselling what helped me through the depression. Counselling helped me work through the intense emotions and identify the barriers to my grief. It also helped me learn how I react to my emotions.
6. Take care of yourself.
I was bad at this. I did not eat and as a result I had no energy. At times I became lethargic and those were the days when it was easy to do nothing. I slept the day away. I did not go out and hid away from people. I lost my confidence and self-esteem. Arrange times to meet up with friends.
7. Plan for the triggers.
Birthday’s, anniversaries, Christmas, Mother/Father day etc They are all triggers. Often the lead up to them are worse than the actual days. Each year it can still be painful but careful planning does help. You can find out more information here.