*Trigger warning the following blog mentions suicide and the grief surrounding it*
This article is for my Grandaddy; I love you more than all the stars!
Last year in November, my Grandaddy lost his struggle with mental illness. It was his birthday on July 20th, and I usually call him every Thursday, especially on his birthday. I miss him every day, and this past week was hard. It had me focusing on grief in general and how it affects the brain. It hurts missing someone, and I even asked my therapist, “I got to feel this every day for the rest of my life!”
I’d instead drink tomato juice every day for every meal, and if you know me, you know I hate tomatoes. I think I’d get used to the taste over time, and it wouldn’t be so bad. Would my grief work like that? Can I feel this pain so often that eventually it won’t hurt, or I’d become numb to it?
This got my brain going (and gave me something I could hyper-focus on to avoid the pain). I found that an American- Swiss physiatrist named Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D. developed the five stages of grief, which changed to 7 later on: shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, and hope. I discovered during my research that these weren’t steps. I wasn’t going to be angry one day and think on ill start bargaining tomorrow. These are stages that I am going to go through multiple times. Some days will be better, and some will be worse.
I also realized that these terms are very generic emotional terms. Therefore, my anger won’t be me yelling at the top of my lungs about how losing him wasn’t fair, but it could look like me driving more aggressively because someone isn’t turning fast enough. This is actually linked to the fact that when I called him on Thursdays, I would be driving home from work, causing driving to be an emotional trigger.
Grief seems so large that the tiny five-letter word feels like it should be longer and always typed in giant bold print. So large that the font size numbers in Word don’t go high enough. How do you explain grief to someone? It’s like I have this hole in me that the cold seeps into, and I fight to stay warm, but sometimes I let the cold envelop me.
I’ve been listening to an audiobook on audible called Negative Spaces by Lilly Dancyger. I could cry with how well she explained her grief of losing her father at a young age. She gives a lovely description of how our identity changes while experiencing grief over time. Grief changes us from the inside in positive and negative ways.
My first thought, as anyone might be while dealing with pain, is to make it go away. For grief, there isn’t a cure-all; we can’t just take some steps, and it’s better. Grief may always be there. Therefore, I compiled ways to help myself during my grief that might be useful to others.
- Acknowledge and sit with grief. I always try and keep my mind busy when I am hurt. If I don’t acknowledge it, then it isn’t real, but, in the end, this just contributes to major depressive episodes. Letting myself feel that grief has helped to release it and release that tension building up. Remember, emotions will always get out and
- Reach out to those who understand or share grief. I found the most comforting thing I did was mourn with those who were grieving. I believe this is why we hold services for those we have lost, not only to honor them and in remembrance but to grieve. I once spoke to a lady a few days after my Grandaddy’s death who had lost her son to suicide. There seemed to be a comfort in knowing that we understood each other’s loss and pain.
- Understand that grief never “goes away”; you learn to live with grief. This one is hard for me because I don’t want to ever forget about my Grandaddy, but I also don’t want to feel this way forever. I believe that we develop memories of happiness and sadness that coexist over time. Have you ever seen the movie Inside Out? There is a perfect example of this. It’s when sadness touches a core memory, and it co-mingles with happiness.
Loss is something we will all see in our lifetimes; some may seem more extensive than others. Grief is how we deal with that loss which also looks different from person to person. There is no right way to grieve. Grief is not linear; it is continuous throughout our lives. The best “cure” for grief is to find a healthy relationship with it.
My hope for this article is that it reaches someone who needs it. I believe even by writing it; I have developed a better understanding of my grief. There is always someone out there who can sit with you in your grief if needed. If you’re comfortable, you can share your grief story with me through email or comment below. All stories deserve to be heard. Don’t forget to like and subscribe because I love doing this and seeing where it reaches.
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