Guest Author - Shirley McGillivray
Most of us don’t realize just how connected holidays are to the people we love.
A year is filled with special days and while every day is difficult, the first year is always going to be the hardest as you come to the realization that life will never be the same again.
Losing someone in your life is hard, but until you have experienced it, you really don’t understand just how hard. We watch TV shows and movies and while there is sadness, life moves forward and returns to normal fairly quickly; unfortunately real life is not like that and without realizing it, we often have pre-conceived ideas of how we should grieve and what kind of time-frame it should cover.
There are more significant days in a year than we would possibly imagine. Of course there are the ‘big’ ones; birthdays, Christmas and anniversaries but there are also the less obvious times such as a day that was special to just the two of you, when a song you both loved comes on the radio, when you turn to tell them something and realize you can’t do that anymore and when a letter comes addressed to your loved one, to name just a few. The first time is often a shock. You might think you are coping and suddenly you are blindsided by a wave of emotion and grief; it is important to allow yourself to feel those feelings.
If you know there is going to be an especially difficult day coming up, perhaps take the day off work or organize a way to be alone, or alternatively, to be with company if that will help you get through the day. Remember that no one knows how you feel; some will think you are ‘dwelling’ for too long, whereas others will think you have moved forward far too quickly. You are the only person who knows your feelings and even then, they can change from day to day, or even hour to hour, so do what is right for you at that time.
There are many different ways of coping with the loss of a loved one because, like grief, there is no right or wrong way to get through each day, and whatever helps you is what is right for you.
- Turn to friends and family members as now is the time to lean on the people who care about you and accept any assistance they offer. People often want to help, but don’t know what to say, so tell them how they can help.
- Draw comfort from your faith and embrace the comfort its mourning rituals can provide. Spiritual activities that are meaningful to you, such as praying, meditating, or going to church, can offer solace.
- Join a support group. Grief can feel very lonely, even when you have loved ones around, and sharing your sorrow with others with similar experiences can help.
- Write a journal of your thoughts. Sometimes we get so involved in what is going on in our thoughts that we find it difficult to move forward. Writing these thoughts down can often help us to detach ourselves from them, at least for a short time.
- Try meditation – like writing, removing ourselves from the continuous thought processes gives us time to figuratively take a deep breath and to relax in a place where there is no sadness and grief.
- Talk to a therapist or grief counselor as an experienced grief counselor can help you work through intense emotions and overcome obstacles to your grieving.
- Listen to music which will often help you to process the many emotions of grieving.
The most important thing is to allow ourselves to feel. It doesn’t matter what you feel; they are your emotions and if occasionally you just want to sit and cry, then that’s what you should do. On the other hand if you get through a day when everyone, including yourself, expects you to collapse - don’t feel guilty. Remember, there is no right or wrong; it is what it is, and one day you will wake up and realize that maybe you will actually get through this and life will continue … just on a different path from what you had imagined.