Surviving the loss of a loved one is heartbreaking and debilitating. Healing takes place on many levels and is an endless process. You feel a new hole or void inside your heart that the deceased once occupied. There are moments when you can hear your heart breaking into a million pieces. I lost my father, my best friend, my biggest fan – a person of monumental significance in my life. I shared 40 years of wonderful memories with him; to say he is missed is a tremendous understatement.
I am only six months into my grief journey, but I still have overwhelming, excruciating, gut-busting pain. These moments arrive when it’s least expected, leaving me scrambling for the nearest form of support.Mourning someone you love shocks your spirit and shatters your heart. When my Father took his last breath, a piece of me left with him. I needed time alone to process what happened. There were two things I knew I did not want, advice from others and to be surrounded by people.
During the days that passed, even answering the phone was difficult. While his death was expected, nothing could have prepared me for the pain and the tremendous loss I was feeling.The days following my father’s death are a complete blur, but I will never forget the friends and family who loved me when I couldn’t breathe, who loved me when I had nothing to offer. Friends and family who stood by my side and are still by my side loving me as I walk my grief journey.Gradually, I developed my own steps that moved me from debilitating grief and anger to gratitude. Below is my guide to surviving the agony of grief:
1. Save the bereavement cards that leave an impression, as time goes on you can refer to those cards and remember the wonderful life your beloved lived ― Our friends and family took time to write memories, some sent photos. These items are priceless memories that often pull me from the edge of darkness during those bad days.
2. Write a letter to the deceased ― I have written several letters to my Dad since his passing. This is my attempt to process what has happened as I grieve.
3. Write a letter to your younger self, make sure to include lessons learned ― When my letter was complete I caught myself smiling at the beautiful memories I shared with my Dad. It helped me realize how blessed I am.
4. Frame favorite photo(s) of yourself and the deceased ― Be sure to proudly display this photo for all to see. I chose quite a few photos; I have one in my office, and I set up an area in my home. When I feel the waves of grief taking over I look into my Father’s eyes and ask for his help. I know he hears me because many times, moments later I will find a beautiful, white fluffy feather in my path. I have found so many feathers since his passing I collect them in a mason jar to remind me that love never dies.
5. Allow yourself to truly navigate the ebb and flow of your grief ― If you need to spend an entire day in bed as you allow yourself to feel the depths of your sorrows, then do it. If you want to cry, then do it. Do not allow anyone tell you how you SHOULD be feeling, despite “how much” time has passed. Grief is a personal journey that lasts a lifetime.
My grief is thief perpetually robbing me of precious moments with my Dad, leaving me fatherless with endless tears and heartache. My grief also provides me with valuable lessons in gratitude. My grief is showing me that we are resilient beings. I’m slowly moving through my grief journey creating beautiful connections with others. Each connection, each friendship is now a part of me, making me a stronger person who knows how precious life is.Let us all try to remember to be gentle with one another as we laugh, cry and move through life. I ask everyone to be gentle with those in mourning and understand that there is no time stamp on grieving the loss of a person of significance.