Now that it’s the holiday season and there are constant reminders to “be of good cheer”, I want to acknowledge that there are so many people who are hurting because they have lost a loved one. If you know someone who is grieving, gently reach out to them or give them time and space if they are not ready or willing to talk or get together.
If you are grieving, I know how hard it is.
My brother, Robert, was killed almost 6.5 years ago and I am still grieving. Some days I feel happy. Other days the grief takes over me and there’s no real “trigger” as to why…and I just have to accept that that’s how I’m feeling that day and do my best fight through.
Below are five things I’ve learned while grieving:
- Learn to say, “No” – This is something I’m still learning how to do. I am the type of person who says “yes” to a lot of things because I want to help people, but overcommitting myself while grieving only stresses me out and upsets me. It’s important to take care of yourself, be selfish with your time, and put your health first.
- Give yourself time – I found that for the first few months after Robert’s death people knew I was hurting…but after a while, it seemed like they felt like I was “over it” and had moved on and was all happy again. I found that many people don’t understand what grieving is like or what it’s like to unexpectedly lose a sibling, so I feel like I have to be extra patient with myself. Don’t pretend to be okay when you’re not, and don’t force yourself to do things with others just because they want you to. And know that if you’re angry, it’s okay; if you’re sad, it’s okay; if you don’t want to hang out with someone, it’s okay.
- Get outside – Whether it’s gardening, going for a walk, sitting in the sun, or running, I find that being outside helps my emotional health so much. Personally, running is my go-to.
- Make new traditions – My parents and I have started doing this a little bit. Traditions we had with Robert are special because they are things we did with him and we will always cherish those moments, but they are also painful reminders that he’s not here and won’t be coming back. Beginning new traditions lifts our spirits and we can still think of him while doing them.
- Know that grief may never go away – I’ve realized that even though it’s been almost 6.5 years, the grief I have is still very much there. I feel like it’s changed shape and transformed, but the emptiness feeling remains. Other feelings like anger, stress, and sadness continue to pop up and it’s something that I have to work on every single day.
I hope you find these helpful whether you know someone dealing with grief or not. Be patient and kind with one another because you never know what someone is battling.