Dealing with grief
Grief is an individual thing; I’m telling you nothing new by saying this but it’s true: different people deal with it in different ways. The way we deal with it can also be dependent on how the loss of a loved one took place; seeing a loved one suffer for a long time can be emotionally torturing for that person’s family. By this, I do not mean that ever makes it easier, but the family can take comfort in the fact that the person is no longer in pain or suffering.
For me, grief comes in waves. I can be completely fine for weeks, even months and then it can take nothing more than to hear a song, catch a smell of something or perhaps see something to completely sap me of my good mood and leave me feeling very low. This can make it very hard for those who have not experienced what I have to understand. The ‘Oh but you seemed fine 10 minutes ago/all day/last week’ then pops up and I have to try and explain myself. Some days the pain of losing my mum is a dull ache and other days a roaring fire that cuts me deep. But that’s just the nature of grief, you never fully get over it, not really. You just learn to live with the pain.
I endeavor to not let my mum’s passing define me as a person but I would be lying if I didn’t say that it fundamentally changed me as a person. I often say to those close to me that you should always say how they should tell their loved ones how they feel about them. This can be anything from a simple compliment or something a little deeper which shows your appreciation of them. At the risk of sounding extremely morbid, do not keep things bottled up for ‘another occasion’; take it from one that knows – You might not get one.
A quote I recently read said “les plus amers regrets sont ceux d’un futur que l’on ne connaîtra jamais. Les regrets ne s’appliquent pas qu’au passé” (Kawamura). It means our most bitter regrets are those of a future we’ll never know, regrets aren’t always just about the past. This couldn’t be truer for my situation. I was never perfect, I’m still not perfect nor will I ever be. But I feel I really tried to be the best daughter I could be for my mum, I tried to make her see how important she was to me, I gave her my time, I tried to make her feel as special as I could and I was there for her when she was down. I have no real regrets about the 20 years I spent with her; the real hard pill to swallow is knowing I don’t get anymore. That’s what really stings.
If someone close to you is going through the same thing, show him or her that you’re there, but allow them to take the time they need just to be sad without forcing them to ‘get back to normal’ straight away. If they want to talk, listen, and if they don’t, don’t force them. As they say, time is the best healer.