Today, 6th June 2020, marks 12 years since I lost my dad. It hasn’t been the sweetest of experiences. I was just 12 years old when it happened and I remember that for years after that incident I lived in a daze. I refused to accept that he was gone. I didn’t know how to deal with it and I never had closure. I would wake up every day thinking that he would walk in and confirm that it was all a big joke.
Shortly after he died, I fell into chronic depression. I beefed God one time too many. It was one event that broke me because i was the closest to him of my siblings. It’s been a difficult 12 years and I won’t say that I have been able to completely get over the incident or that i have forgotten because more often than not, someone would walk up to me and say that I am the splitting image of him. But, time heals all wounds… Even though the scars remain.
This year, i thought it would be nice to do something different and embrace a proactive approach. This blog post is about sharing how to cope with loss for those who may have had similar experiences. I’m no stranger to loss. I don’t think any of us are. It is never easy; but you’re not alone.
Coping with loss always involves the same dynamics. In every case — whether it’s the loss of a loved one, a friendship, a limb —we are forced to live with the fact that we will never again have that thing, person or experience. We are forced to feel an internal emptiness and to accept our pain.
Is it possible to cope with loss? If yes, How?
Talk about it with friends or with a family member. Avoidance can lead to isolation. Support groups, reading books on the subject, praying or meditation can help you deal with the wave of emotions. Find what works for you. It’s important to have a strong support system to see you through.
Accept your feelings. Your feelings are valid. Whatever you feel in those times are normal. You may experience a plethora of emotions – sadness, anger, loneliness, frustration, resentment, shock, disbelief, guilt, regret, emptiness, confusion, fear and many other negative emotions. But if you feel stuck or overwhelmed you can talk with a psychologist or mental health professional who can help you get back on track.
Remember and celebrate the lives of your loved ones. Anniversaries can be a difficult time for friends and family, but it can also be a time for remembrance and honoring them.
Start taking steps to fill up the void within. Loss always creates a void that needs to be filled. The closer your connection and the more intense the loss, the more profound the emptiness may feel. For me, my filler was volunteering. It helped me step outside myself to think of others as well. It gave me meaning.
Learn to grow from the loss. Every loss has a message. Whether the message is for you to be more loving and accepting, to learn to be more resilient, to learn to adjust to what you cannot change, or to change something you can; if you can step out of the emotion and observe the message clearly, you can grow out of it with a little more awareness.
Replace the negative feelings with positive ones. Sit down and write a list of what is good or great in your life and put it somewhere you can take a look at daily until you’re at peace with your loss.
Do things that positively impact others, engage in meaningful and creative activities, make time for your self-reflection, pay attention to your senses, enjoy life’s simple gifts, and never lose hope.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of complicated grief or clinical depression, talk to a mental health professional right away. Left untreated, complicated grief and depression can lead to significant emotional damage, life-threatening health problems, and even suicide. But treatment can help you get better.