1) When people offer support, take them up on it!
Losing someone can be one of the hardest things you will go through in your lifetime. For me, I have always been extremely independent, and have never wanted to take help from others. Well let me just tell you, when you lose someone, let others hold you while you grieve. Being completely vulnerable to another person can be entirely and utterly terrifying, BUT it can also lift a huge weight off of your shoulders that you never even knew you were carrying. When terrible things happen and someone you love dies, people do not know how to necessarily help. The best way for them to know how to help is by you asking for it.
2) People will say rude and hurtful things without event realizing it.
Sometimes, people are going to say weird or hurtful things to you when they think they’re giving their condolences. I still distinctively remember that when my mom passed away while I was in high school (spoiler alert, sorry), when I arrived back to school that next week, one of my teachers made me stand up in front of my entire freshman class while she hugged me and told me how sorry she was for my loss and how the entire class was there for me. Can you imagine how awkward that was for me? To her, that might’ve been the best she could do to show that she was there for me, but to me it was just uncomfortable. Don’t take it personally, though. Just remember, people want to be there for you, but just don’t always know how. Don’t hold it against them.
3) There is no timeline for grieving.
Grieving the loss of a loved one takes time. For some it takes less time than others. There is no timeline or checklist that you can go off of that tells you when you will be done grieving. For me, this was always difficult, because I am such a type A person. I like having my To Do List and being able to plan for something. As unplanned as my life has been, it is crazy that I am such a planner honestly. In some ways, you may never stop fully grieving them. If they were such a huge part of your life, it can be difficult to not have them there for future moments.
4) Big life events and milestones will forever be bittersweet.
As excited as I am to someday get married and have a family and experience all of these amazing things life has to offer, there will always be a bit of sadness that comes with each big moment. My dad will never be able to get to walk me down the Aisle at my wedding. My mom will never get to help me get ready for my wedding, or I will never be able to call them when my future child is crying and I need their help to walk me through everything. They will always be in the back of my mind through all of life’s big events, and it can be difficult. I am here to tell you, though, that whatever you are feeling is exactly how you should feel. There is never a right or wrong answer to how you should go about your grief and experiencing big life events is included in that.
5) Anger is a normal part of grief.
As I said before, and I will say again, whatever you’re feeling is exactly how you should feel. Anger goes along with this. There were times when I would be angry at my parents for leaving this earth before me. I would always feel guilty for feeling that way, but it is completely normal, and actually healthy, to feel these types of feelings. We need to get these feelings out so we can better cope through our grieving process. It is okay to be angry at your loved one for leaving you so soon. What is not okay, though, is to be angry with yourself because you regret the way you may have treated them or the last thing you said to them. I struggled with this for a while. I was angry with myself for yelling at my dad because he messed up the bed. I am sure that before I left for my basketball game, I told him I loved him and goodbye, but the only thing that I remember, vividly, is getting upset with him because he messed up the bed that Ashley and I had just made. Never be upset with yourself for maybe not saying goodbye to them properly. All you can do at this point is move on and live your life by being the best version of yourself; doing that will make them proud.
6) Grief triggers are everywhere, and sometimes emotions will come on out of nowhere.
I remember driving home from work one time and my dad’s favorite song came on the radio. I was having a completely normal day, until I heard his song. Out of nowhere, the tears started flowing. Grief triggers are everywhere, and there is no way to fully prepare for them. You cannot plan for them to happen. Every year on the anniversaries of my parents’ deaths, I always lose it. It seems as though everything around me reminds me of them on those days. Whatever you are feeling is exactly what you should be feeling. Do not try to hide your emotions. Let them out, and be okay with being vulnerable. It is hard to remember that you are only human, and that no one expects you to be okay at all times.
7) Grief can make you a stronger person than you were before.
There are two ways that you can look at losing a loved one. You can either completely crumble and let it eat you alive, or you can stand up on your two feet and take the next step. Sometimes taking the next step of your life into the unknown, without them by your side can be scary, but I promise you, it will make you a stronger person. Enduring such pain in your life will only make you stronger. Grief is a slow process that takes time, but as time goes on, you do get stronger. Living without them might not necessarily get easier, but you will get stronger.
8) Counseling doesn’t mean that you’re crazy or weak.
Talk therapy is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Being able to talk to a trained professional can feel freeing. Not only can you get out everything that has been weighing on your heart, but you also get the opportunity to experience breakthroughs, and remind you that you are stronger than whatever you are going through. There are tons of benefits from regularly going to counseling after losing someone. Currently, I am facilitating a group through Solace House of KC that have all lost a loved one, and even though I may not be on the receiving end this time around, I feel like it is continuing to help in my healing process. Being able to help others that are going through something similar to you is extremely rewarding as well. I encourage you to try counseling of some form. There are many different types of therapy; you just need to find the one that is right for you.
9) It is ALWAYS okay to cry when you need to.
For the longest time, I was always nervous to let my guard down around others. It made me feel so vulnerable, and that people would think I was weird for crying out of the blue. There are still times where I feel that way, but I can tell you that it is completely normal to cry whenever you need to. There will be grief triggers that make you cry “out of the blue” and others may not fully understand it, but you are never wrong for letting yourself feel certain emotions. Grief is a never-ending process, where you will have good days and bad days. It is okay to feel vulnerable.
10) “You don’t get over it, you just get used to it”.
Living life without your loved one can feel wrong at times. There were times that I questioned why God took them, but left me here to live my life. It made me sad that I was “Chosen” to live my life and they were not. But I have to remind myself that this is not the case. We may never know “the reason” for why people left this earth, but we cannot feel like we are in the wrong for being here when they cannot be. With that being said, you may never get used to them being gone from this Earth. You will never get over them dying, but you just become immune to the new normal. It is OKAY to live your life. Just make sure you are living your life in a way that would make them (and yourself) proud!
11) The value of handwritten letters or notes is priceless.
I cannot stress to you the importance of still writing handwritten notes or letters to one another. I STILL have a handwritten card that my parents gave me for my First communion when I was 8 Years old. Something that no one ever tells you when your loved one dies is that you forget certain things about them. It is hard to sometimes remember my dad’s voice, or my mom’s laugh. Getting to see my parents’ handwriting from this note is so important, because it helps me to keep certain things about them in my memory.
I know it is somewhat of a lost art, but the importance of writing one another handwritten notes is vital. We never know when it might be important to our loved ones to look back on a note that we shared with them. It is also a great reminder for our loved ones to share with them how much we loved them!
12) ALWAYS be kind. How would you want to be remembered if you died tomorrow? Wouldn’t you want to be remembered as the man/woman that gave her heart to others? Being Kind is such a vital piece of our lives. Whether it is as simple as holding a door open for someone else, or something bigger, it is ALWAYS in style to be kind!! If you learn nothing else from what I have written in this post, PLEASE REMEMBER TO ALWAYS BE KIND TO ONE ANOTHER!!
13) You can never tell someone you love them enough.
Saying “I love you” can be a phrase that you do not always need to say because “your loved one knows you love them”. I am here to tell you that you should say I love you and say it often. Just because your loved one knows that you love them, it is always a good reminder to tell them again. All it can do is bring you closer to your loved one, and when they do leave this Earth someday, you will have peace of mind knowing that you told them how you felt!
Grief is never an easy process, and it takes awhile to come to terms with all of these new changes, but I can promise you that there is light at the end of this dark tunnel, and your loved one would want you to live your life fully! Do whatever makes you happy, because that is exactly what life is about.