Each person experiences grief differently. There’s no right or wrong way, but the one thing everyone can agree on is the whirlwind of emotions that show up, from shock to denial; from sadness to anger; from hopelessness to yes, even relief. Grieving is a highly personal experience and yet, there’s no shortage of advice on how to deal with it. But there are certain feelings and experiences you go through when you lose someone that no one seems to mention in the face of adversity.
Journalist and writer for dearly.com, Sarah Caskie shares her insights on some of the things she learned after she lost her mother.
Sometimes You “Forget” That They’re Gone
“When you lose someone who was a massive part of your life, it’s hard to wrap your head around the fact that they’re suddenly gone,” Caskie writes. In moments of excitement or joy, your first reaction is to want to share it with that person but then you realize that they’re no longer there and so you can’t. This can be a hard realization, but Caskie suggests that it’s a good time to realize that there are otters in your life who would love to hear your news and share in your excitement. This can be a time to truly recognize the support of friends and family members you can call.
It’s Okay to Say No to Want to Be Alone Sometimes
For many, well-meaning friends and family will offer their support by offering a time to go out for drinks or dinner or some other social event, to “make you feel better,” and maybe distract you from your grief, which is a valid form of support. Never feel pressured to say no if you’re really not up to it. These moments of being alone and saying no to social invitations can be an important part of self-reflection you can use to help you figure out the best way for you to move forward. Sometimes, it’s about sitting and feeling, not even planning the next step. Figuring out what your next step will be will take time and grief has its own clock.
The Bad Times Don’t Matter So Much Anymore
After Caskie lost her mother, she was surprised to find her relationship to her had changed. “Like many mothers and daughters, we often butted heads over even the smallest of issues,” she said, “but now I find hard to remember her by anything other than the strong ways she influenced me in my life. The issues that seemed to press on our relationship a short time ago have transformed into what feels like an afterthought.”
In the Grief, Healing Comes, Too
Sometimes, it’s the smallest thing that can remind you of your lost loved one; the first Father’s Day or Mother’s Day, the first birthday, a particular flower, a smell, or song on the radio. Memories of the person may initially rock you and bring the grief of your loss back, but on the heels of it are the memories of the good times and love you shared with that person. And those are just as powerful, and will always be with you.
Life Moves on Whether You’re Ready or Not
There will come a day when you will need to continue with your daily routine, whether you’re ready or not. Mental and emotional grief doesn’t stop after a 3-day bereavement period. It will not always be so difficult. Rest in the knowledge that there will be a day when your normal activities of work or school won’t seem like such a struggle anymore.
You’ll Realize You’re Stronger Than You Thought
“Of all the condolences, apologies, and comments I got after my mom passed,” Caskie writes, “the one that stuck out the most was something small said by a friend in passing. She said
‘I couldn’t make it through what you went through.’” Cakie’s immediate thought was what choice did she have? But then she realized something that was startlingly hard to admit—that she was actually strong.
“Continuing on after losing someone previously instrumental in your life takes strength. Finding ways to turn the pain into a reason to do better takes strength. And letting yourself heal takes strength. If there’s one major thing people don’t tell you when you’re going through the grieving process, it’s that you’ll find power in yourself along the way.”