The Truth About Grief

“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.

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Buckle Up and Enjoy the Ride

In my dream world, everyday is a good day and I am constantly running through a beautiful valley of happiness. However, in reality, everyone has good days and bad days. Some days you’re running through that happy valley, while others you are at the bottom of a dark hole just hoping to grasp a rock to pull yourself out. Welcome to the roller coaster that is my life, so buckle your seat belts and enjoy the ride.

I know I am not alone on my perspectives and the real world is like Wonderland- filled with roller coasters everywhere you turn. Sometimes we can be so busy screaming on our ride that we don’t notice the man screaming on drop zone.

This week I finally saw the man falling and realized I am not alone on the ride. No one is. When going down on the roller coaster we have blinders that prevent us from seeing the various posts and beams holding our ride up. Have you gotten lost in my analogy?

You are not alone. There is support trying to hold you up even when you think you’re falling off the tracks. Sometimes we don’t notice the support that is available to us. On your next bad day try to think about who is at the bottom of your ride holding you up. Is it your family? Friends? Maybe it’s the Student Mental Health Services. Or maybe it’s the people on this blog who want to hear what you have to say and want to help. Whomever it may be, they are there for you.

The next time you are at the bottom of that hole, keep in mind someone out there wants to throw you the rope and help you out.