2022: What to do when you don't know what you are feeling when someone died.

Here's how you can help guide your child through grief after their parent has died.CARLA GOLEMBE VIA GETTY IMAGES

 Accepting the Uncontrollable

Grief is one of the biggest and most unruly emotions that exists. It has a life of its own and can feel like a bottomless pit of unpredictability. Emotional pain must be felt if it is to be processed.  

We know we all die, we understand the concept of impermanence as an integral part of life, but until it comes and slaps you in the face when you are least expecting it, it remains merely a concept. 

As I reflect on a month of grieving, the following are things that are helping me cope with this sudden and traumatic loss.

One of my co-workers committed suicide and when I got the news, I felt this sense of dread and anxiety circulating in my body. I am shocked and not shocked at the same time.

I’ve always had a gut feeling that his happiness was all pretend and his positivity was all pretend. I tried having conversations with him about his personal well-being and always been pushed away. I just feel like I could have helped him. I feel...a sense of regret that I didn't try harder.

Accepting the Uncontrollable

Death throws life into very acute focus. The very fact that life is so uncontrollable and that what happens next is so unknowable means I have to find a space of surrender, and in that space eventually comes power. It forces me to be much more in the moment, enjoying life in the present. Life becomes even more precious when thrown in such contrast by experiencing death.

Allowing Myself to Feel

Allowing myself to feel all of my emotions is very important. If tears and pain are stored up, the stagnant energy of holding onto repressed feelings becomes toxic. The most surprising thing about grief for me has been the way it suddenly envelops me when I am least expecting it. It is tough to love myself through these feelings of despair, anger and frustration. I have allowed the experience of death to be part of who I am now. I am learning to live with a personal understanding of the transience of life.

Loving Myself Through Grief.

One of the best things I have done through this past month of grieving is to allow myself the time and space I crave.  I did not want to socialize or be around laughing, happy people. 

I found crowds and mundane conversation to be terribly draining. The worst thing about grief is that split second upon waking when you forget you lost someone, and then the weight of it sinks into your stomach again as you remember. On days like these I did not force myself to be something I was not. Striking a balance between nurturing myself and staying connected to those who love me and care has been an important part of my experience. 

No Guilt

There is a strong sense of guilt surrounding the ability to have fun after someone has died. If I catch myself laughing or smiling I immediately feel bad. This is crazy when you really think about it. I have found that the key is not to allow  my feelings to be what they are, and not force them into something they are not, all the while staying aware that they will ebb and flow with the unpredictability of grief. 

How to honor the life that’s gone?

I finally understood why people like to set up charities and trusts in the name of lost loved ones. It’s because we feel a sense of purpose to find the meaning in death, and relief once that meaning is found. One of the reasons we feel anger and denial at death, particularly sudden young death, is the cruel sense of life being torn away too soon. Dealing with a flood of memories, songs that trigger intense feelings, photos and thoughts, I find myself wanting to make sense of the life that has gone.

Ultimately there is no shortcut to avoid the pain of grief, the sadness of losing people we love is unavoidable. Death of those we love is one of the hardest things we ever face, and the raw emotions it brings are challenging to navigate. However, in the face of death I am also being pushed to become more aware and more determined to live the best version of myself. Life will always shine through.

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