I am witness to the grief and overwhelming sadness of having to lose a loved one – a brother. I was broken, angry, guilty, depressed – and much more. I could only imagine how more magnified those emotions were felt by my parents. Like most parents, mine never thought their son would leave this world ahead of them, and acceptance of that fact was one of the most difficult ordeals that they had, perhaps even until now.
According to Tali Yuz Berliner, Psy.D. “Individuals may avoid discussing the loss as well as avoid people or places that are associated with their grief. This experience can put an individual in a vulnerable position with regard to their mental health.” Yes, The demise of a loved one almost always leaves us stuck in depression and grief, and some of us remain that way because we do not know how to move forward. However daunting it may be, we soon realize that we must get up and overcome the stage of bereavement to follow the road to recovery – because life must go on.
Moving on is part of the stage of loss that goes along with acceptance. It is the time when one has come to a realization that their loved one is gone and we are left only with vivid memories of them and their life with us. As for me, moving forward means realizing that my brother is no longer here to joke around with, to fight with, and to share stories with. I still miss him, though, sorely, but I had found healthy and helpful ways to remember him and move forward at the same time, and I’m going to share them here.
Keep yourself busy. Initially, you’re going to have to dump yourself with work to keep your mind off your loss, and believe me, it helps. If your job entails you to report to the office by 8 am, leave the house at 7 if you’ve been awake since dawn. You’d be more productive working than depressing over something that cannot be undone. If you’re a home-based mom like I am, write your heart out. Work when you’re done taking care of your family. If nothing comes to mind, search for a new recipe and make it for supper. Do something worthwhile. “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.” says Ashley Curiel, PsyD.
Keep in touch with old friends. I had a friend who lost her boyfriend of two years – from a heart attack. They were supposed to get married in a few months. She was devastated and she went away for some time. She kept in touch with me when she learned about the tragic death of my brother, and it was such a blessing that we reunited and rekindled our friendship. We helped each other heal our hurts by talking about them, crying over them, and attending worship service together. Sometimes it feels much better to be with people who have gone through what you’ve gone through.
Live, and I mean just that. Continue living life with the fond memories of your loved one always in your heart. I have learned to talk about my happy memories with my brother among my friends and family. To be honest, tears still start to show, but only because I miss him, not because I have not accepted his death. It is only but right for us – along with those who have experienced sadness and grief from bereavement – to live our lives and make it worthwhile, because death comes for us, too – for all of us.
“The experience of losing someone we love is a process most everyone endures in a lifetime.” –Annie Vaughn, MA, LMHC