Grief is indescribable and undesirable. Losing someone you love is on par with losing your body’s ability to function, and your mind’s ability to think. These past few weeks surrounding my grandma’s passing were jumbled to say the least, and without the support of friends and family, I wouldn’t have had the strength to reflect on the time I had with her.
For those who may be coping with a similar loss, you know as well as I do that the only way to deal with grief is to trudge straight through it. Although no one grieves the same way, here are some things I’ve found are helpful to the process.
Talk to the people who know what you’ve lost
Often, it’s impossible for people to understand what grief is like if they’re not going through it. This makes it even more important to talk with those in your life who you know care, and realize the value of what you’ve lost. I lived with my grandma and saw her every day until I went to college. Even then, I would go home almost every Friday to watch our favorite shows, sometimes classic movies like Casablanca, and sometimes prime time police dramas. No one besides my family knows how much time I spent with her, or can understand how much the world has lost now that she isn’t in it. Although it is important to express your feelings with anyone who cares about you, it’s most helpful to talk with the people close to the situation. My family has been a grounding force. Each of us handles grief differently, but the shared experience ties us together.
Make a list of what they gave you
This can be anything, from inherited traits and possessions they left behind to clear memories. My grandma gave me her laugh, her blue eyes, her love of comfy clothes, and her love of processed, sugary snack cakes. I’m talking Little Debbie Zebra Cakes. Look at this list not as a reminder of what was taken away from you, but as a collection of positive things they added to your life.
Imagine your goodbyes
Unfortunately one of life’s cruelest intentions is to catch us by surprise. Sometimes we are able to be in the right place at the right time, and the last words shared with our loved ones are complete and meaningful. But a lot of times, your last encounter feels like an inconsequential summation of the time you spent together. If you are comfortable with it, try to imagine what you would say. Picture how they would react and how they would reciprocate all the love you are sending their way. Every moment between you that feels small now that they’re gone was important to them while they were alive. Sometimes you don’t need goodbyes; they knew how you felt.
Think of what they would want for you
In the darkness of the moments following a great loss, things like school, work, even daily hygiene seem superfluous. The healing process is long and grueling, and these other aspects of life tend to fall by the wayside. But whatever strength and love that person offered you during their life, know that that lasts even when they’re not around anymore. Think of this when school or work seems like it doesn’t matter anymore. I know that my grandma would have wanted me to finish my last semester happy and proud of everything I’ve worked for.
Your relationship with what you’ve lost and the way you grieve is unique to you. There is no straight path to recovery. But over time, even though it may not get better, your memories of that person will get stronger. That makes a world of difference in coping with grief.
As my grandma used to say, this too shall pass.
In memory of Lois Joyce (1931-2017)
Written by Shayla Brooks