Let me start by saying there really is no ‘how to’ on the subject. This is because of two reasons; no sane person who really loves someone would emotionally prepare for that person’s death ahead of time. Secondly, each human being has a unique reaction to pain that shouldn’t be used as a template to decide what a bereaved person would feel. Each bereaved person should be advised individually.
But because people around you really care here they might try to suffocate you with comfort when all you want is for the house to be empty. So don’t just rush into hostility with them; tolerate them to some extent and someday when the cloud is over you’d be glad you did. But there are some emotionally destructive things you should not let them force you to;
Calm yourself- I know first hand how debilitating this ‘caring’ advice is, a family friend’s daughter cried out her grief at her husband’s burial years ago, now she is a sunny-sided woman, while I was told ‘big-boys don’t cry’ at my mother’s burial and have ended up paying back those unshed tears up until now. Let out the pain, I really don’t care which medium you choose from crying to smashing things as long as no one gets hurt. Let it all out, and then exhale.
Forget about the person- but is that possible? Even if it is with the aid of chemicals and drugs is it healthy? Forgetting about the deceased person would be tearing off a portion of your life that will inadvertently leave a festering scar. Your comforters may tell you it would help you ease up the pain but it is a fatal lie, selling of properties or burning up pictures and clothes of the deceased person would only add a heavy burden to the pain of losing them.
Be around people- this advice might be good, but sometimes, when you’re choked up in the house with people who hardly knew the deceased like you do, you just need some fresh air. You don’t have to sit hours on end waiting on, or taking care of them, you are the bereaved for heaven sake; if anyone needs taking care of, its you. Having people around can take your mind off the pain, but you must be careful about how you use them as an escape because when they leave (as they eventually would) all you have left will be the same pain.
Sorry is supposed to make you feel better- sorry didn’t bring back my parents when they died, so I loathed anyone who told me sorry because I felt they where mocking me. It wasn’t until I reached my adolescence that I realized those endless streams of pitiful ‘sorrys’ where intended to be comforting. ‘Sorry’ never got me through those years of emotional turmoil, having hands fiercely wrapped around mine did. Knowing that there where people who just loved me and supported me gave me the courage and strength to let go of the pain.
Some book or program will automatically end your grieving days- the truth is that you will never find solace in something you read or head about losing loved ones. In fact the best this write up can do will be to help you find that inner peace and calm in yourself. Losing someone can be a great time for self-discovery; you’d be surprised what you’ll find in yourself if you look deep enough. Asides my talent for writing, I found God in myself, so I just let him take up the pain, burden, insecurities, hatred, depression and all the other heavy baggage the 15 year old me had been carrying for 6 years. And I’ve never looked back.
During the period you lose someone you have be careful with the kind of people you have around you, because you will be in your most vulnerable state. Some might feel you are not reacting to the pain well enough, they believe you should cry harder. Others might feel you are too matured to be reacting that way. I remember looking on at my father’s coffin being lowered into the ground too shocked and too uncertain about my future to cry when some boy my age said ‘if it were him he’ll cry his eyes out so that God will bring my father back to life’.
Finally the right attitude is an indispensable tool needed to not just go through this period but grow through this period. I could choose to become a rascal after all; I have no parents to impress and no expectations to live up to. But doing that would wash their years of perpetual loving and training down the drain. I could choose to think about the ghastly pale look on my mother’s face as life ebbed from her, but I choose instead to remember her delightful smile and the sound of my name on her lips. I can brood over the fact that they would never see me get married or get a job, or hear the cries of their grandchildren. But I choose to believe that they are proud of me where they are, and that I will see them someday.
You too will have to make that choice sooner or later, because losing someone has a way of reshaping destinies. The loss shouldn’t define you, but it should build you. Experience after all, is not what happens to people but what they do with it.
photo credits: mylot.com