I hope you are keeping well – more than ever I mean this!
When I was much younger I lost my grandfather on my mothers side and an uncle on my dads side, I knew and loved them both, but I was also a child who could not fully grasp the magnitude of grief or was I able to build deep meaningful relationships beyond the people I saw daily. I say all this to say I experienced my first real loss of a loved one in 2020. My grandmother had been on and off ill for the last two years and sadly passed away mid-June and my aunty suddenly passed away the day we were expecting her at our house to spend a month, in early July. Both these events are truly devastating on their own – and to happen in such a short time frame was the biggest shock to my system.
Neither one of my relatives passed away due to Covid-19 however, in some strange and twisted way the pandemic has almost acted as a buffer; before they passed, I had seen so many “RIP” posts and sent so many condolence messages that at least the thought of death was not entirely foreign.
Both my aunt and my grandma lived full lives and hearing what people have said about them in the past few months is a testament to that. One lesson I have learnt in my own mourning is that you can be consumed by your perspective. So I have adopted the mindset that my grandma and aunt had to go because they have made their mark and fulfilled their God-given purpose.
“The only way to get over a death is by seeing it as a life completed, instead of a life interrupted.” ― Anonymous
During this pandemic most of us will have experienced and/or witnessed more loss than ever. For myself it has been a journey with a lot of tears but slowly I have been able to laugh again so I thought I’d share some tips for those who may be experiencing something similar. If you have lost a loved one, I am so sorry for your loss, I hope you find comfort and I hope this post is helpful.
“We never truly get over a loss, but we can move forward and evolve from it.”— Elizabeth Berrien
BE IN YOUR FEELINGS
“Be strong for XYZ” “You are so strong” “Stay strong”
While I can recognise these statements are often said with good intent, the truth is they are often very unproductive for those dealing with loss. The truth is when you are in agony the last thing you want to be is “strong” and that’s okay. Take the time you need to grieve and heal, when you spend so much time being strong for those around you… one day your feelings will catch up with you. So start the process and grief the way you want to not what others expect from you.
“While grief is fresh, every attempt to divert only irritates. You must wait till it be digested, and then amusement will dissipate the remains of it.” — Samuel Johnson
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. – Psalm 73:26
TAKE A BREAK
For someone like me who started a new job during lockdown this one was very difficult and frankly I failed. When my grandmother passed I took 2 days off work and still actually worked during one of those days off. When my aunt passed, I took 1 week and 2 days off work. I remember my GP asking me “Are you sure? You’ve gone through a lot I think you need more time”. But I felt so much pressure to just “get on with it”, each time I went back I was flooding my keyboard in tears between meetings and pretending I was okay because I did not want to seem incapable of doing my job.
Truly there is no right or wrong amount of time to take off work. What is important is that you spend this time actually resting – not feeling guilty for it, not distracting yourself, not worrying about work but just resting!
For those people in your life who are yet to experience loss, they may struggle to empathise with you no matter how much they try to. To ensure people are showing up for you in the way you would like… tell them how you feel so they can make informed choices on how best to show up for you. However, I say this with caution; there have been people I have cried to and those I have expressed my weakness to that just left it there, no follow up call or text… nothing, so brace yourself.
Don’t focus on those who are not there for you
As mentioned above, some people simply will not be there for you in the way you expected or would like. No matter how “close” you are to people you expect a certain level of compassion in these times. At first you may doubt yourself, doubt your friendships, doubt everything, but I want you to know you are not alone. In fact, from doing my own research a very common part of the grieving process is getting rid of certain relationships. While I won’t advise burning bridges left, right and centre – life changing incidents truly open our eyes to who has our back and who is just there for once in a while banter. So don’t spend time chasing and stressing over those who don’t show you the compassion you desire and focus on the ones that that do, most especially God.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit – Psalm 34:18
Gratitude & good memories
As mentioned earlier, an important part of mourning is perspective. Focus on all the amazing memories and less on their passing itself. Focus on all the times you saw them happy rather than the times you saw them weak.
“Remember me with smiles and laughter, for that is how I will remember you all. If you can only remember me with tears, then don’t remember me at all.”– Laura Ingles Wilder
There is no manual on how to mourn or grieve, when it all comes down to it we won’t always do everything right especially in the height of our emotions. What we all can do is learn from the ones we have lost and live a life ourselves and they can be truly proud of.
“Grief is in two parts. The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life.” – Anne Roiphe
Another thing we can all do is remember how precious and short life is, and from this learning to live each day to the fullest and not letting the small and petty things of life steal our peace.
“Never take life for granted. Savor every sunrise, because no one is promised tomorrow…or even the rest of today.” ― Eleanor Brownn
Tool that helped me: Bible plan on You Version Bible app: Finding Meaning in Mourning: Walking through Grief.