Grief: (noun) a deep sorrow caused by a great loss
March 19th 2012 marks the worst day of my life. That was the day that I lost my best friend, my heart, my angel…my grandmother.
(My cousing/bff, myself (on the right) and my grandmother)
Her death happened so fast, but deep down I knew it was coming and I didn’t want to face it. Months before her death I stopped calling her (totally regret it) like I used to because it broke my heart to hear her sound so tired and in pain. Though my calling made her happy, I was started to form memories of her like that and I didn’t want to. I know I never, even to this day, processed her death properly. In the beginning I was trying to be strong (because everyone was telling me I had to be) for other people. I never knew when the right time was for me to stop being strong and start taking care of myself and my feelings. I’m always thinking about her and it brings a smile to my face no doubt, but it also brings tears to my eyes when my heart starts to ache for her voice, her smile, her touch. I haven’t experienced many deaths of people close to me (or deaths in general) to make me cold-hearted or insensitive to the subject. The loss of a life is always sad simply because that person will not longer be there. I’m so scared to even attempt to grieve her death at this point, 6 years later…in my “condition”.
To grieve doesn’t mean to get over or to forget (because I will never forget her or get over losing her). To grieve means to come to terms, a sort of peace, with the situation because you know that you can’t change it and that person is free and no longer hurting.
There are 5 major stages of grieving:
- When you first learn about the situation you may go into a state of shock and say things like “this can’t be happening”. That is your mind’s way of dealing with the overwhelming emotions, like a way to protect yourself from what’s really going on. My family received a phone bright and early in the morning saying my grandmother was in the hospital and the doctors said she wasn’t going to make. My family that was with her put the phone to her ear so we could say our final goodbyes. Believe it or not, I couldn’t do it either. Part of me wanted to think that she was going to wake up and I would be like “yeah I knew she was a fighter”. Another part of my couldn’t believe that I was about to lose my ride or die and I didn’t want to say goodbye because that would be too final and I was not ready for that. They called back again after she had passed away, and I remember sitting on the couch watching Spongebob but not being able to hear anything as my body went completely numb. Somehow I gathered the energy and courage to go to school and gather all of my work and came back home to be with my mother and sister (it was my mother’s mother). When I went to school people were looking at me sideways wondering what I was doing there, and to be honest I didn’t know why I was there myself. I did know that my grandmother did not want the show to stop because of her (had she been able to, she would’ve told everyone to stop crying and get on with their day). I think I pretended like it wasn’t happening and took on this “protector” attitude for my mom almost immediately and that’s how I found my strength.
- Once it starts to sink in that this is real and there is no changing it, people grow angry, blaming everyone and everything for what has happened. We sometimes blame ourselves because we think there was something we could have done to prevent this from happening. (I can’t stop you from thinking this, but know that there was nothing that you could do. If it was meant to happen, it was going to happen no matter how you tried to interfere.) I didn’t go through this stage until months after her death. I blamed so many people, including myself, for her death. I thought that if I had just continued to call her then it could’ve kept her happy enough to stay alive. This stage didn’t last long for me.
- It is during this stage that people start making deals and promises to get their loved ones back. Saying things like, “take me not ___”, “I promise I’ll ____ if you bring ____ back”. I think that I’m stuck on this stage. I made those same ridiculous promises and statement. (I say ridiculous because there was no way, logically, a person came come back to life.) I made promises to keep going to school, to stop drinking, etc. Of course nothing worked. Now a days I just wish to hear her voice, see her face or feel her hugs again. It gets pretty bad on my low days. What can I say…she was my best friend. I talked to that lady about everything.
- After a while, once we know that there is nothing that we can do to get that person back, we sink into a depression as we start thinking about the old times, digging up every photo, video, memory we can (almost torturing ourselves to a point). People start abusing drugs or alcohol, getting into all kinds of trouble trying to find ways to cope with their loss. Even though my bipolar symptoms appeared after her death, I still don’t think I went through this stage because I made myself not think about her for quite some time because I knew if I did, I would be depressed. I have to figure out how to go through a stage similar to this without causing any issues for myself.
- This is when we have come to terms with what has happened and have made our peace with the situation. For some people this stage doesn’t come for a long time, and that’s okay because you can’t rush it. People have to deal with things in their own way and own time. #FACTS
HelpGuide.org has an article about coping with grief and loss…of all kinds. They focus on all things mental and emotional health. In their article (that you can check out here) has a list of common myths and facts about grief.
Myth: The pain will go away faster if you ignore it.
Fact: Trying to ignore your pain or keep it from surfacing will only make it worse in the long run. For real healing, it is necessary to face your grief and actively deal with it.
Myth: It’s important to “be strong” in the face of loss.
Fact: Feeling sad, frightened, or lonely is a normal reaction to loss. Crying doesn’t mean you are weak. You don’t need to “protect” your family or friends by putting on a brave front. Showing your true feelings can help them and you.
Myth: If you don’t cry, it means you aren’t sorry about the loss.
Fact: Crying is a normal response to sadness, but it’s not the only one. Those who don’t cry may feel the pain just as deeply as others. They may simply have other ways of showing it.
Myth: Grief should last about a year.
Fact: There is no specific time frame for grieving. How long it takes differs from person to person.
Myth: Moving on with your life means forgetting about your loss.
Fact: Moving on means you’ve accepted your loss—but that’s not the same as forgetting. You can move on with your life and keep the memory of someone or something you lost as an important part of you. In fact, as we move through life, these memories can become more and more integral to defining the people we are.
Grieving is not an easy process. There are emotional and physical symptoms of grief that you should also be aware of. That’s why it’s important to surround yourself with people you love and who love you during that time so you can have that emotional support you need. You can turn to family and friends or take comfort from your faith. Don’t be ashamed to go and seek a support group or talk to a counselor. Some losses are harder to handle than others and require professional, outside, or extra help. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you are taking care of yourself during the entire process.
RIP My Angel