Feb 23, 2016

How to deal with the loss of a loved one

Losing a loved one, regardless of age, is incredibly hard. People grieve in different ways; talking about it or ignoring it all together may help you feel better. Some days you may find yourself doing anything to keep your mind busy or others where you simply cannot keep it together and just cry. There is no “right” way to grieve; it is a process that takes time.
Twelve years ago I lost my father. It has taken me that long to finally feel ready to talk about what happened and to have slowly found (some) closure. Everyone deals with loss differently & maybe this will be useful to those who feel stuck.

There are certain activities you no longer take part in, songs you stop listening to, movies you can no longer watch, nicknames you can’t bear to hear - the list can go on. This is okay.  You and the life you had have changed and with time, you learn how to restart again.

For those who are afraid of forgetting songs or lyrics or saying – create a memory journal. There are certain songs and little quotes my father used to say all the time that I’ve never heard anyone else say. I started writing things down when I was thirteen and surprisingly enough, my journal still keeps growing today with random memories or stories I’ve heard from family members. I was afraid of forgetting everything, but I can’t now.

As hard as birthdays or holidays can be, use this time to keep their memory alive. Celebrate their birthday – buy a cake if you want to or fill out a card.  Keep a place for them at the table if this will make you feel better. You don’t have to sing or even talk about it, but remaining to keep these days special will remind you how you still are connected.
I remained silent about my father’s death for years. Some of my closest friends still don’t know how or why he passed. I’ve dealt with people who just don’t know what to say or have said incredibly inconsiderate remarks. What happened to your dad? You never talk about him. | He’s in a better place now, you shouldn’t be sad. | My dad moved away so I can understand how you feel (these are all real comments I’ve received over the years).

I remember feeling isolated from peers or like a charity case. I hated when people who didn’t know would ask how he was, then ask how he died. I felt like screaming: Yes, my parent died but it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with me. I wished that my surrounding community had given me the space that I so desperately needed.

Talk about it when you feel ready to. Don’t let others rush you or pry information out. It may seem too hard to talk about them or the circumstance without crying or feeling sad, but there may come a time where you can talk about them and share memories and not cry. The sadness never goes away – you always miss them – but when you start to feel comfortable sharing your memories with others you start to feel so happy that they were a part of your life – for however long or short of a period.

I miss my father every day. Just because I am an adult and twelve years has passed doesn’t mean I don’t miss him or wish I could pick up the phone and hear his voice. I wish he could have been there physically to see all of my life accomplishments.

What I am saying in this post is that your friends, family, or just society in general shouldn’t make a time limit for your feelings or make you feel bad for the different ways you handle grief or remember loved ones in. You shouldn’t be forced to get over someone quickly.

I do not have “daddy-issues” because I grew up without a dad, and I never had behavioral problems.  I am twenty-five years old, a college graduate, and working on my Masters degree in social work.  My mother is the strongest person I know because she was forced to play both parental roles, while working full-time. There will always be a part of me who feels jipped but from this I will continue to confront the stigma against children who are raised by single parents or come from “broken homes.” There was barely any support available to me in 2004 and now, I would like to see more support available to those who need it. There is nothing wrong with seeking professional help and there are so many people out there who are willing to listen.

To my dad,
I miss and love you and hope you are proud of me. I told you that you were my hero once and you laughed. I still mean it.

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