“I’m sorry for your loss.”
At this point, I’ve learned to tune it out. It seems like when you have lost a loved one, this is the only thing that you hear. But, then again, what else would you expect others to say?
The loss of a loved one can take a toll on your mental well-being, and the weight of it feels like an elephant sitting on your chest. We are getting close to the one year anniversary of the day I lost one of my best friends. My Papa was the person I went to when I needed a listening ear. It was unexpected, and quite possibly the hardest day of my life so far.
Many said, “you’ll get through it” or “stay strong”. However, the most common by far was “I’m sorry for your loss”. This phrase became a trigger for me, but everybody said that I was just going through the stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
At first, I agreed with them. I denied the reality of the situation, I isolated my thoughts and feelings from my friends and family. I was mad at Papa for leaving without saying goodbye. When I left the house, he would say “I’ll be here”. Now, he isn’t.
Every day, I told myself that if I hadn’t gone off to the library that morning, I could have gotten help sooner. I blamed myself even though nothing could have been changed. I was depressed thinking about all of the things that he would no longer be there for. The first time that I came home from school and he wasn’t there was heartbreaking.
It is said that the final stage of grieving is acceptance. A year later, I have yet to agree. I believe the process is never-ending – there are good days and there are harder days. Sometimes you’re reminded of the loved one and smile at the memory, sometimes you’re reminded and cry for the loss.
What everybody forgot to tell me was that it gets easier. You will never forget. Eventually, it will become easier to remember. There is always someone nearby who will be willing to listen to your memories, no matter if it’s with a smile or a cry. It could be a family member, a friend, a neighbor, or maybe even a stranger with an open heart.
I learned a lesson from this experience. The next time I meet someone who has lost a loved one, I won’t tell them that I am “sorry for their loss”. I will greet them with open arms, a shoulder to cry on, and remind them – it will get easier.