Written by Ali Mariani.
Two weeks ago, David Bowie passed away after a private battle with cancer. Two days later, Alan Rickman passed away after a battle with cancer. Before and after and in between those instances, millions of others passed away from cancer, drug addiction, suicide, and countless other diseases and accidents. Before and after and in between these instances, thousands of sisters, brothers, mothers, daughters, husbands, wives, and sons were left to pick up the pieces.
Loss is everywhere and wherever there’s loss, there’s grief.
I find that grief is something people tiptoe around. I opted to write a blog about it because, yes, it’s something that I have had my fair share of, but, more importantly, I want people to understand that grief is not something that has to be feared or hidden.
Everybody grieves. There are a thousand ways to grieve—and there is no right or wrong way to do it. There is no timeline for grief. It’s not black and white. There is no beginning, middle, or end. For some, it takes years to heal the loss of a loved one. For others, it might happen more quickly. Everybody grieves differently. But there is one thing that’s for certain: loss leaves people changed.
Here is what I do know about grief—just like any large emotion, any heavy emotion, it needs to be released somehow. It cannot be carried in its full weight forever. Imagine grief as a heavy backpack filled with mixed emotions. Along our journey, we find places to release them. Somewhere along the journey, our loved one gives us permission to let go.
Here are some tips if you are experiencing loss of any kind:
- Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself during the grieving process. Don’t expect yourself to be a Superhero. Take naps. Be OK if all you did was the minimum today. Maintain self-care.
- Avoid comparing yourself to others. As I stated earlier, there is no set timeline for grieving. Sometimes, comparing our experiences to others isn’t helpful. It sets us up for feeling like we “should” be feeling a certain way. Know that however it is you are feeling, that it’s OK.
- Cry but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t. I recently loss a loved one. When I first received the news, I didn’t cry. At first, I started to beat myself up and think to myself: “I must be a horrible person, why am I not crying?” The tears came, eventually. They came in my own time, during my own process. Cry if it comes naturally but don’t be hard on yourself if it doesn’t.
- Find an outlet for your emotions. Maybe you are a writer and want to write your own personal tribute to someone you have lost. Or perhaps you are a painter and you want to immortalize them in a painting. Or maybe you are a runner and want to dedicate a race to them. Whatever your hobby is, finding a way to express your emotions creatively can help you to grieve in a healthy way.
- Don’t be ashamed to seek professional help if you need it. Loss can be a new experience for many of us. It can leave us feeling like we got sucker-punched. Sometimes, grief hits us harder than we anticipated. It can lead to Depression. If you are experiencing signs of Depression to the point where it is interfering with your school or job, consider seeking professional help. There are counselors who specify in grief counseling. There are professionals who can help you navigate your emotions around the loss.
- Talk to a friend. Identify a trusted friend or loved one with whom you can discuss your feelings. It is helpful to be able to talk to someone about your thoughts, experiences, and emotions during this difficult time.
- Find comfort in spirituality. Whether you are religious or not, spirituality in some form can be really helpful when dealing with loss. If you are religious, worship. If you are a yogi, practice yoga if it feels right to you. If you are a nature fanatic, go out in nature.
- Be patient with yourself. There is no timeline for grieving. Be patient. Healing takes time.
- Celebrate the memories you have. Memories are precious. Celebrate the person you lost by reflecting on the good times that you had with that person.
- Finally, remember that love is never lost. It is just re-directed. This is a law of energy. Love doesn’t disappear when someone passes away or leaves us. It’s just redirected.