How To Mourn Without Drowning Into Depression

Death is a natural process. Nevertheless, you will never be prepared once you experience a death of someone. It will surely be devastating. You may even think that there’s no way in this world you can go back to your normal life again. But, just like how the saying goes, “there’s always a rainbow after a rain.”

There are healthy ways to mourn for your loved one who passed away. Applying these ways can help you to avoid drowning into depression. Because “Depression is a serious and tricky illness. Unfortunately, it can also go unrecognized for a long period of time” says Dr. Kurt Smith, LMFT, LPCC, AFC.

Do not suffer in silence

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Being silent about the passing would only cause you more suffering than you can imagine. Being silent would not allow people, who care about you, to know that you need their support the most. If you stay silent, you will just box inside you all the negative feelings that the death has caused you. Therefore, you won’t have that outlet to release these negative feelings. Worse, they may even drag you to the pit of darkness and eventually depression. Note that “Many people mistakenly believe that if you can’t see it like you can a broken bone, it must be less significant and therefore can be overcome by simply using willpower. If not, they mistakenly believe that people who suffer from depression are weak.” Simon Rego, PsyD says.

Recognize that your feelings are real and normal

You need to understand that what you are going through is normal. Every other individual who experiences death in his/her life feels the emotions that you are also experiencing. There is nothing wrong in them. Certainly, there’s also nothing wrong with you. All your feelings are valid and legitimate. Hence, don’t put too much pressure on yourself that you have to be back to normal right away. Take time to recognize and be familiarize with these feelings and emotions. In time, they won’t affect you as much as they used to.

Find people who will understand

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Losing someone you love does not mean that you are all alone in this world. You still have your family and friends that care about you. “By building a list of people that you trust, with whom you can talk to in times of need, you allow yourself a strong sense of not being alone.” David Klow, a licensed therapist  explained. You can also search online for communities that offer support for someone who is in mourning. You might even be surprised that there are several bereavement support groups that cater any kind of loss—whether it be parents, significant other, friends, or even pets.

Have a ritual for the person’s passing

When you lose someone, you are entitled to mourn for the loss. But, staying in mourning for extended periods of time is not healthy for you. When you mourn for someone, you commemorate the very important life that has passed. However, it does not mean that you would forget the person once you stopped from mourning. You can still have a ritual that you can do every time you miss that person. This ritual can be the activity that you and the person that passed loved doing as a past time. You can do this ritual every week, every month or every year. This ritual should celebrate the life of that special person so make sure that you would not lock yourself in your room and cry all night. Make it something fun and enjoyable. Having this ritual can help you in the healing process.

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Realizations About Life After Losing My Dad At 15

When I was a kid, I thought death only comes to those who are old and sick. My dad wasn’t any of those. He was young (46 years old when he passed away) and was generally healthy. Although, he has maintenance medicines to keep him going. He was a big man whom by looks alone demands attention and dictates authority. How could he just be beaten by his first cardiac arrest? I don’t know. I had just seen him that morning before he took a shower, I didn’t know it would be the last.

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“The experience of losing someone we love is a process most everyone endures in a lifetime,” says Annie Vaughn, MA, LMHC. But before, I used to think he was invincible, as he had always been. I was wrong. Until now, I still couldn’t believe that he was gone just like that.

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Losing my dad made me realize how short and cruel life can be.

The person you are sitting next to on the subway could be gone in a day. A family friend may die in a snap from aneurysm. A loved one could meet an accident at any time. Every morning, we are given a chance to start anew and embrace life to the fullest. A hug and a good night kiss to your loved ones wouldn’t hurt. What would hurt is the fact that at one point, you wouldn’t be able to do those things to them. When you realize how short life can be, you would know how to value the people you may be taking for granted. A piece of advice, make time for them as they would for you.

Life is unfair.

According to Debbie Augenthaler, LMHC, NCC “No one is born knowing how to cope with the wave of grief that follows the death of someone we love. As a psychotherapist who’s worked with many grievers, I know when faced with overwhelming grief, many people feel like they are alone in what they’re experiencing and can feel like they’re going crazy.” Same as me. No matter how cliché it may be, this life could take you by the storms before you realize it. I lost my dad while he was at the peak of his career, right before we were about to purchase a new car and when everything was going well. With his passing came all of those bright things we had wished for our family. If I could ask for anything when he was alive, now I would have to work hard if I would want something. Today, buying a pair of shoes that I’ve been eyeing in the mall for a long time with my own money is more fulfilling than asking my dad to pay for it. It taught me the value of hard work and perseverance. It is true that life can be unfair. But, never let it bring you down. Fight with all your might because…

Life is full of hope, dream, and love.

Right after my dad’s funeral, my siblings and I, together with my mom, all hugged and promised ourselves that we will make it through. When a door closes, another opens, they say. We believed that the reason my dad left was to let my mom take the stage and show us how strong she can be by raising all four of us on her own. It was her door that opened, and we couldn’t be more than proud of her. Amidst the grief and longing, our home is full of love because we chose to stay and work together. It is okay to grieve and mourn. But, choosing to be brave amidst the sadness and conquer it is a decision that is yours to make, a choice that you should take. “What does typically help is a combination of finding a place to process the loss and talking about it,” says Gregory Kushnick, PsyD.

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Like everyone’s favorite TV series, Game of Thrones, life is a complex wonderful thing. It has so many plot twists that never cease to amaze anyone with all of its revelations and surprises. Hold on, wonderful things await.

These are just a few realizations about life and living. Life is a series of decisions made by you and the people around you. Together, each decision makes ten-folds of difference that affect so many lives. Make sure they all fit together to make it right.

Remembering A Brother On His Birthday

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Missing My Brother

My brother will be turning 42 tomorrow – if he would have been alive to witness his birthday. Oh, how he loved celebrating his birthdays. He would be ecstatic when there were family gatherings and parties, especially his own. When everyone was complete, including his long lost friends, he would wear his dashing smile all night. And food – too much food – was one of his weaknesses. He would eat breakfast three times – once in their house, another at my mom and dad’s, and third at mine. That’s why despite the drug addiction that he was into and the many problems he had, he never looked like someone who was broken inside.

“There’s no one answer about what to do when you miss someone—it really depends on the situation.” Gregory Kushnick, PsyD. said. Well, It has been almost four years since we lost him from a tragic death. We have learned to live with him only in our hearts but we do miss him terribly, especially when his birthday comes. What we do to remember him and the good memories we had with him is to do a get-together in our family cemetery, where we are also able to visit our other loved ones who passed away. I guess it has been our way of healing also, getting to celebrate his birthdays ‘with him.’ While we’re there, here’s what we usually do that perhaps some of you might get some ideas from.

Celebrating His Life

  1. We cook some of his favorites. He had a lot of favorites! Bean soup is one of them, with pork fat and sausages in tasty tomato sauce. We would ask him to stop eating too many bowls of that soup because everybody knew he would be grimacing in pain after – he had arthritis.
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Pork stew was also often present on his birthdays. Esther, an old family friend, cooked it just the way he likes it – softened pork cubes with a thick brown sauce that’s a little sweet and spicy.

“Everyone reacts differently to grief, and how one reacts has a great deal to do with what happened and whether they’ve dealt with it appropriately.”  Janeen Herskovitz, MA, LMHC said. That is why we chose to do it differently. Cooking food for him made us feel like we made him happy wherever he is. I can only imagine him gazing down at us as we are enjoying his favorites.

  • We hold a mass or say a prayer. This is tradition, one we have always done with the rest of our loved ones who died. The priest would say something about losing someone we love, and then we would reminisce on my brother’s life – his jolly and fun moments, how he loved his kids, and yes, the not so great chunks of his life. We do that because we sometimes forget that as much as we want him to still be alive, there are things that were out of our control, inevitable things that we couldn’t have known.
  • We play his favorite games. My brother is the one person I knew who was very much connected with the child in him. He played video games, joked around with the family cook and driver, sang in the shower, those kinds of things. One of his past times was playing mahjong (a Chinese game) and cards. So that’s what we do in the cemetery. We are a big family so there was always enough people to play cards. These games were fun for most of us and they gave us the opportunity to make great memories with our family as well.
  • We would include him in our talks. I had a lot of cousins who had kids like me and we would compare notes about parenting, how to remedy a rash, where to buy nice and cheap clothes. I’d say, “Brother, look at your niece. He’s so beautiful, right? Of course, she is. She has your genes.” I know he’s not there with us physically but I would feel him there, so I would talk to him, out loud and in my mind. I don’t know about the others but I felt closer to my brother that way. Annie Vaughn, MA, LMHC says, “The experience of losing someone we love is a process most everyone endures in a lifetime.”And we know.

Yearly Reminder

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Birthdays are truly a reminder for us every year and always of our loved ones who have left us. Amidst our busy lives, we are prompted to pause a while and spend a day memorializing the ones who went ahead of us. May we always remember them and keep them where they are alive forever – in our hearts.

How To Prepare Yourself for the Death of a Terminally-ill Loved One

If there’s one thing you and I have in common, it’s the fact that we all have experienced death of a loved one/relative/friend or know someone who have been in that situation and lost a family member/friend/etc. Death is an inevitable part of life that we would all have to face at some point. But the silly thing is, no matter how much we understand and know that it would hit us or someone we know, we all still get surprised when it happens.

The real question is, how do we prepare ourselves when death comes to a terminally-ill dearly beloved? There are a few things that we may do to prepare ourselves for this unfortunate event.

Spend more time together

The general thing to do: spend as much time as possible with that person. Try to make each day memorable and happy for the both of you to treasure. If you have a day job, make sure you bring home their favorite snack when you visit them. This would make them feel loved as it entails that you thought about them despite your busy day. “I’m pretty blown away by the idea of Loving-Kindness Meditation. Meaning, instead of drowning in sadness, purposefully spending a few minutes wishing people well (from you to a mentor to a stranger to a person you know struggling) can actually lead to productive actions and increase your joy.” Jennifer L. Taitz, PsyD said.

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Cook for them

According to Justyna Wawrzonek, LCSW, LADC “For someone who battles negative thoughts, worries, and is constantly bombarded with doubt, fear, shame, cooking can be a healthy outlet to bring peace and serenity into their headspace.” Cook their favorite meals with love, so they would feel it with every bite. They say that the key to a man’s heart is through his stomach. But really, isn’t it the key to anyone’s heart? Not only would they feel loved (considering you cooked their favorite meal) but you would also get to know why they love that dish in the first place through their facial expressions.

Collect memories with photos and videos

Take as many pictures and videos as you can with that person. Goof around and play with the camera. Record their laughter, their smiles, their facial expressions, and their candid selves. Invest in a polaroid camera to capture legitimate candid moments with that person.

Write a journal

Try to make a journal of the wonderful moments you shared with your loved one. Paste the photos you took with your polaroid camera to complete the journal and to inspire you to write in full details. “Journaling is great for enhancing self-awareness through helping us detect and track patterns of behavior, thoughts, and feelings.” Alison Stone, LCSW said.

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Travel with them

If your loved one could still travel, take them to nearby places that they haven’t been to. Keep in mind to prepare everything they would need and to get the approval of their doctor before traveling. You only have now to take them to these places. Make no excuses.

Pray with and for them

Pray for their good health, no matter how ironic it may sound. Pray that the pain of your loved one would go away even just a little. Even if you don’t believe in God, your good intention alone would mean so much to your loved one.

Write them letters

Write them short love notes every now and then. Write a love note before they wake up so they would have something to read as they start their day and to brighten up their feeling. You can also write a love note before they sleep to remind them of your love, in case it would be their last (we hope not!).

Compliment them

Appreciate the little things by complementing them unexpectedly. Unsolicited compliments never ruined someone’s day. They would no longer hear how you brag about their being wonderful with other people during their funeral. Your compliments would not matter anymore once they’re gone. Hence, tell them now before it’s too late.

Care for them

There is no better feeling for a dying person than being cared for. Love can be shown in different ways. Caring for  them could be the ultimate form of expressing your love.

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Doing these things would make you feel like you’ve already done everything to the best of your capability to show how much your loved one means to you. It could help you move on once they’re gone. You know you have done everything you could to make them happy on their last days. But the truth is…

You could never prepare yourself for the death of a loved one. No matter how hard you try to understand and anticipate that it would eventually come to that point, you will never be prepared for the feeling it would bring. You are entitled to grieve and mourn. To be hurt. To be sad.  And it’s okay.

How to Cope with the Passing of a Best Friend

You have every right to mourn about the death of your best friend. Your best friend is the one who has been with you through thick and thin. This special person has sealed that gap in love that your parents or lovers might have failed to provide.

“Understand that grief comes in waves. It is natural to feel numb at times and “normal” at others. You might continue to grieve for months or years. It is okay.” Ashley Curiel, PsyD. said. Dealing with the loss of your best friend can become as difficult as losing a relative or a loved one. Here are some of the suggested ways to move on with your life after their death.

Keep the Memorabilia in a Safe

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Keeping away anything that reminds you of your best friend might be an unpopular opinion and suggestion to share. However, it can be particularly helpful in times of terrible grief. Furthermore, grief is an overwhelming and painful emotion to experience for a long time. Adopting some physical-world adjustments will just be as effective as dealing with the pain emotionally.

Meet People who are Experiencing the Same Pain

You may also want to talk with people who are experiencing the same pain of loss as you do. That being said, you may want to have an emotional talk with their parents or peers. Through this, you gain some insights as to how they are adjusting to the situation physically and emotionally. It is better to seek for the advice and perspective of these people especially that you are all mourning for the loss of the same person. Because “As we process the reality of our loss, we are also trying to survive emotional pain.” A reminder from Jodi Clarke, MA, LPC/MHSP.

You may also consider having conversations about their loss with their dependents such as their spouse and their children. Hearing from them will make you realize that you are capable of being strong for others who might have a greater feeling of loss than you do have.

Write a Book

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One of the best things to do when grieving for the death of a best friend is to channel the pain through your pen and paper. Writing a book can be helpful in providing you an external insight about the pain that you are experiencing. You will have a better understanding of the situation which might look unacceptable at the moment.

Try making a biography of your best friend so that you can recall all the beautiful things that he/she contributed to this world. Alternatively, you may want to use your best friend as a reference to a character of your very own fiction story.

Schedule Yearly Visits to the Tomb

Accepting their death can be painful. Because “When you miss someone, you need to process it,” says Gregory Kushnick, PsyD. You may plan to learn how to sustainably accept your loss once you return to your normal senses. Begin by scheduling future visits to their tomb. By doing this, you will still feel their positive presence in your life long after they have been gone.

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Grieving for a best friend will never be easy. Above are just a few guidelines that you may follow. You may want to add your own ways of coping with the loss especially when you had a unique relationship with your best friend. The end goal, at the end of the day, is to finally accept and move on with your life after losing a gem in your universe.