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When Grief Hits

Give yourself the grace to grieve, and grieve fully. Feel what you feel. When you don’t allow yourself the space to grieve, it only prolongs the process and makes it all the more painful.

When Grief Hits

This month marks 18 years since my father passed away. That was my first brush with loss.

 

I remember standing at his bedside at the hospital, and staring at his lifeless body. I was dry eyed and completely numb. I was in utter shock, and it seemed surreal. I thought that maybe he was just sleeping. Maybe they had made a mistake. I reached to touch him, and his body was already cold. But it still didn’t register that he was gone. 

 

He died 2 days before his 59th birthday. I was preparing to celebrate another year of his life, but instead, I had to plan his funeral. 

 

I’ll never forget slowly approaching the casket at the funeral to see him for the last time. Moments before friends and family had passed by his casket for a parting view. As they passed, they shook my hand, or hugged me. I cheerfully smiled at them warmly, and kindly thanked them for coming. I even comforted a few, with quiet composure. A pillar of strength. Epitome of grace and quiet dignity, if I do say so myself.  When it was finally my turn, I peered down at him, dry eyed. He looked incredibly peaceful. I stared blankly. 

 

In the back of my head, I heard someone begin to wail. The piercing scream was incredibly high pitched and prolonged, I’d never heard anything like it. 

It took me a while to process that it was me. It was me screaming at the top of my lungs. I don’t know how that scream escaped. I don’t know where it came from. It was as if my spirit had been silently screaming for two weeks, the screams of my soul breaking refused to be contained any longer. 

 

I was blindsided by his death. Then I went into autopilot with planning and organizing. It all hit me standing at his casket, in what can only be described as an out of body experience. 

 

So many memories played before my eyes. And then it hit me that I’d never see him again. 

 

When grief hits. It hits. 

 

Give yourself the grace to grieve, and grieve fully. Quiet dignity and strength; loud indignation and weakness – do what you have to do and feel what you feel. When you don’t allow yourself the space to grieve, it only prolongs the process and makes it all the more painful. Don’t be afraid to find a therapist to help you with your grief. Life coaches, like myself, who specialize in grief can help as well. 

 

Some things I’ve learned:

1. Your emotional and mental well-being is priceless. 

It’s commonplace at many jobs to allow 1 – 4 days for the death of a loved one. You can’t even take care of your business during business hours on that “compassion” leave that’s often devoid of compassion, let alone cope with grief.  If you need more time, take it.

2. You can’t pour from an empty cup.

Prioritize yourself and self-care. Many people don’t like to do this, because it seems selfish. It can feel particularly selfish to those who are caregivers; like moms helping their children make sense of loss. But answer this: if you break down because you’ve neglected  yourself, who’s going to care for them? Exactly. So put on your oxygen mask first, then help everyone else. Your oxygen mask can be therapy, coaching, a manicure, new candles, brunch, a weekend getaway, a concert, a comedy show, church, a massage, reading, prayer, journaling, a long bath – any or all of these, and more. Do whatever you need to recharge. 

3. There’s no time limit on grief.  

As I’m typing  this, my eyes are blurry, and filled with tears. It’s been almost two decades. It’s always going to hurt a bit. But it gets easier with time. We’re not meant to be here forever. It reminds me to love a little bit more with the time I have. Treasure your memories. And it’s ok if you still get sad from time to time, even years later. It’s normal. 

If you need help with any of this, don’t hesitate to contact me. 

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