Coping with Loss and Grief
Coping with Loss, Grief, and Life After Losing a Loved One
When I lost someone I loved, my love was replaced with grief. Initial loss and grief was overwhelming, all consuming, and painful. I didn't want to be a griever. I didn't want this grief. The longer you grieve the more emotions of grief you'll feel. Guilt was a main feeling. How could I be happy in a world they were no longer a part of? The longer I grieve though, the more I've learned that coping is healthy and should be a part of everyone's grief journey. Coping doesn't mean you are moving on without your loved one. Coping with loss means you're living side by side with your grief.
How do I cope with the loss of a loved one?
Coping with loss is so often misunderstood, because it gets misinterpreted as moving on. But coping is your ability to function in day to day life or find joy amidst your grief. Coping does not mean you're okay with their death. It means you're learning to cope with such a significant loss. It's a part of your grieving process... not a sign you are over it. But a sign grief is now a part of your daily life. Coping shouldn't make you feel bad. You're allowed to find ways to cope with your grief.
Your grief doesn't have a timeline.
So, please don't feel you have to "get over it." Yet, all grievers at some point feel they were expected to move on. But when? Why? Grief was allowed at the hospital. Grief was allowed at the funeral. Grief was allowed in the days that followed. But when was the day grief was no longer accepted? It's unfair that after a couple of months or even just one year, after you go through all the "firsts without" that you are expected to have moved on by now. It's unfair because grief doesn't have a timeline. Grief changes with time. Grief does not always look like initial loss. But you'll still feel it. Maybe in waves and that is normal. It's normal to miss loved ones. It's normal to grieve. It's normal to remember. It's normal to mourn. Grief doesn't have an end date. We just cope with the loss throughout our lives.
Can you grieve and smile?
Yes. And I am sorry it's not understood that both grief and happiness can coexist. You can grieve and smile. I used to wonder if it was allowed. I assumed if you were happy, then you "were over" your grief. So, the first time I felt happiness... I felt guilt. How could I smile in a world they were no longer a part of? I felt judged when I would laugh in public, but cry in private. My grief was erased the moment they saw me experience a moment of happiness. I didn't want others to think I was "moving on" because reality is you just don't move on from your loss. But grief and happiness can coexist. It might feel like a struggle at first to accept that, but you're allowed to be happy. Smiling and enjoying life doesn't take away from the loss you've experienced or the love. You'll always grieve, but you're allowed to have a life they'd be proud to watch over.
Grief continues throughout all those missed milestones.
I enjoy my life. I am happy, but my grief is still there. In our happiest moments, we still wish we could share it with our loved one. We wish they were here to see it. Weddings, birthdays, holidays, new homes, new jobs, graduating, becoming a parent... these are just some of the life milestones we want for and with our loved ones. Grief continues. Even if you are happy during those moments, and you are allowed to be, it would be wonderful if they could have been here too.
If you're watching over me, I hope I'm living a life worth watching.
Now, this is just what has helped me the most personally being able to cope with my loss and continue living my life. It took time too. This mindset was not instant. I grieved hard. And I still grieve. One day though I was thinking... if they are watching over me, what are they thinking? Am I really living a life they are proud of? Is it a life worth watching?