On Death, Dying, and Loss; What not to do!
Sending out some love, support and resources to anyone that is grieving over the death of someone or anyone going through a divorce, break up, or any other type of loss.
I am sorry you are hurting and in pain you are not alone. Death and loss jeez, what can I say, it’s severely painful intense and confusing. People don’t always know what to say to you and how to say it or you get judged for what you say or do or don’t do. You may be at a loss for knowing how to cope with what you are feeling. Whatever it is, you are not going through it alone, finding others going through similar loss and grief can be a great source of comfort. Don’t be surprised or judge yourself if you feel shocked or confused or any emotion. It’s normal to go through the stages of feeling; shock, anger, denial, depression, bargaining, and acceptance at any time and at different stages. Sometimes you even go out of order and it can take a long time or short time we are all different.
In my experience death and loss can bring about intense realizations, epiphanies, and deep transformations and it doesn’t always happen all at once. In fact I am willing to bet it doesn’t happen immediately for anyone, at least historically it hasn’t for me for many reasons mostly because it’s taken so long for me to find myself, my voice, and develop the courage to express my deep innermost feelings and develop fearlessness in expressing my opinions and putting myself out there -that is what my blog is all about. Life is complicated, emotions are complicated, relationships are complicated, so much is thrown at us. Our lives can be filled with stress, obligations and things that distract us from the things and people we love and that matter so when we lose someone important it can deeply change your life.
The worst part is that you don’t always realize it either; you don’t know how much you love someone until you lose them; maybe you had unresolved issues that you never worked through, maybe you took that person for granted. I think it’s so hard if not impossible to fully grasp the weight of how much you love someone or realize just how much a person means to you especially the ones always there for you until they are gone. We can be horrifically hard on people and judge them profusely. I have found I learn more about unconditional love and conditional love at the time of death. You realize quickly sometimes slowly what really matters. You may think you know how you will feel about someone after they die but it’s another thing to actually walk through that experience when it happens. Life is filled with contradiction,I think we tend to actually really love the people that make us the angriest and that can come as a huge shock! It definitely confuses others. Sometimes the people we push away or are ashamed of, the people that trigger us the most, are the people in the end that we love the most.
“When someone experiences a loss of a loved one, it changes them in a way that they could never go back to the person they once were”
At nearly 40 years old I have experienced my fair share of death and loss,my family had two big losses this year alone. The first loss as an adult that sent me reeling into a deep spiral of suicidal depression and an eating disorder was the unexpected and sudden death of my aunt in 2002. It took me over 12 years to come to terms with it because I was so young and immature, so emotionally dependent on her and I was going through two other losses at the same time! She was also someone I greatly admired and looked up to she deeply shaped the woman I am today but it was complicated like most of my family relationships. To make matters worse, back in those days I didn’t have high levels of interpersonal or intrapersonal skills.
Interpersonal skills are the skills we use every day when we communicate and interact with other people, both individually and in groups. People with strong interpersonal skills are often more successful in both their professional and personal lives. Intrapersonal skills are the area has to do with introspective and self-reflective capacities. This refers to having a deep understanding of the self; what one’s strengths or weaknesses are, what makes one unique, being able to predict one’s own reactions or emotions. I barely ever spoke or expressed myself I kept all my feelings and opinions deep inside and I only expressed my true self to a handful of people. I didn’t know who I was, I wasn’t as self aware and in touch with what or how I was feeling I was dependent on others to define who I was and how I felt and when those people that did that for me died and suddenly left my life, I was devastated.
I was clueless and had TERRIBLE COPING SKILLS, I was a runner and I was filled with pride and deep shame for being so weak. Even though I was in a deep state of shock and pain I kept busy and kept moving, working, going out dancing never spending a second alone with myself or my thoughts doing anything I could to stay busy 24/7. I just wanted to avoid my feelings at all cost this only kicked in and activated deep suicidal feelings that I coped with by developing an eating disorder. Food was my drug. It’s pretty clear to me now that this IS NOT THE WAY TO HANDLE PAIN OR LOSS! Looking back now I can see that I made it all so much worse! Isn’t hindsight always 20/20? I didn’t know how to suddenly make new friends and find people to talk to that I could trust. I was running; and running from your feelings pain or problems never works out -trust me.
What made that death worse is that I was going through layers of loss; two other very important people in my life had also left my life. My very first best friend who I was very close to and emotionally dependent on moved back home many states away and my first real love and long term relationship ended a year prior to my aunt’s death. ALL three of these people were a huge part of my support system the only people I really had ever let in and trusted and just like that they were all gone within a year. That was close to 9/11/2001 and we were going through a recession so much was happening and changing in my life and on the planet it, I didn’t have a chance to recover from anything before being impaled by the next piece of sad and devastating news! I wish I would have known or been exposed to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross stages of grief model back then and knew to get support or go to counseling. I eventually figured that out but it took me awhile to overcome my pride and ask for help. If you are hurting and need help please reach out to someone there is no shame in feeling feelings and being human, although I would use discretion only reach out to supportive people that feel safe comfortable and that respect you and understand the deep amounts of pain you may be in. Look for good listeners that validate you that can remain objective close family members may or may not be able to comfort you when they are also in deep stages of grief and pain . I highly recommend reading at some point the following book click on the link
On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss, by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
If you are also someone that holds everything all inside or expects people to read your mind; some words of helpful advice don’t do that! It only makes it worse, people don’t know what you are feeling and not everyone knows how to support you. It’s too much pressure to put on people to expect them to read your mind especially if they are grieving as well. Be gentle with others grieving, give people space and try to understand and have patience for the angry periods those are the hardest emotions to deal with especially if you have anger management issues the way I have struggled with. You may need professional support. I have found writing to be a tremendously healing tool that really helps you process and come to terms with everything! Writing helps me organize my thoughts deep feelings and actually helps me “feel” my feelings so try it-it may work for you. People may judge what you have to say and how you say it let them. Just do you and don’t take other people’s opinions or emotions personal. Just remember you have the right to feel whatever you feel and on different days you might not know what that will look like. Every death I have experienced since then has been different; some I was mentally and emotionally prepared for. Some made me feel hopeless, others deep grief, others deep anger and shock. It’s all so subjective and personal for everyone and it’s all okay no matter what you are experiencing.
Here is what you should do;
Reach out to grief and trauma specialist or support groups in your community, they are there to help you and trained to help people in crisis not all require large amounts of money and some are actually free. There are thousands of support groups on Facebook some that may even be specifically focused on death, loss, and dying. Read books or websites about grief, write, take care of yourself. Nurture yourself practice self care and self love, journal, eat good foods, surround yourself around positive loving people, sleep well, get healings and do anything you can that feels calm and supportive. GET OUT IN NATURE OFTEN IT”S SO HEALING. Give yourself a break don’t be hard on yourself on the days you are too depressed to move.
Watch funny movies, keep your spirits up, take nice baths, listen to happy music. I like to listen to music and write poetry. If you have anger management issues try and get help working through them don’t hurt others or take out your pain on others especially others also hurting. It doesn’t really help you in the long run or your relationships to do that, if you have to avoid people for awhile to keep the peace try writing them a letter send them a text send them this blog post, try and salvage your relationships if you can. If you are thinking of hurting yourself or anyone else get help! Join a group let people know what you are going through. I have a support group it’s not specifically about grief and loss but it is a place to get support and find someone to connect to it’s called WLN Soul Sister’s and you are welcome to join but there are so many others.
Tags: change, coping skills, death, dying, elisabethkublerross, grief, griefsupport, growth, hospice, interpersonal skills, loss, spiritual awakening, what not to do