I lost my Mother this past March. A sudden and unexpected death, she died from a massive blood clot that found its way to her heart and lungs. Everyday that has passed by since that day has been challenging, even feeling impossible to cope with.
There are so many things I remember about her that its painful to think of her sometimes. Thinking about her does not bring much laughter yet, it often still brings tears and anger. I am mad that she is gone and at myself for not spending more time with her while she was here. I feel robbed because she only lived for 58 years. I am disturbed that I just can’t talk to her one more time. I am irritated by the whole aspect of grief, because I have to keep living while feeling like this and still try to manage my own existence.
Even the hardest experiences in our lives will eventually fall under the control of our thoughts. While the grief process has many layers and is different for every person, we have to be careful to keep ourselves in as much of a positive state of mind as possible. Of course we will have down days, especially during those anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays, but if we allow too many paralyzing thoughts to enter our minds for an extended stay, are we being fair to ourselves? Is a constant state of sadness where our loved ones would want us to reside?
The loss of life can occur in so many ways, and I know that words cannot erase our pain. Words do not remove our guilt and hurt. Words cannot remove images from our mind or repair our damaged spirits. However, our thoughts can lead us in one of two directions: toward healing, or toward brokenness. It is up to us to monitor our thoughts in a way that is fair to our personal well-being and our grieving process.
Allow the feelings to exist, just not too long. Cry, scream, punch a pillow, listen to music and reminisce…do whatever helps you to absorb the emotional hits when they come. Just do not practice self-harm or use illegal substances, because this can really become destructive. Also, don’t dance with the painful emotions for too long, as the longer you do so, the harder it becomes to smile again, and you need to smile again.
Do or create something in their honor. Sometimes moving around, working on something creative, or collaborating with someone who also knew them may be uplifting for our minds and thoughts. Create a collage, paint a picture, write a letter to your loved one or in general, volunteer your time to help others who are grieving, sew, knit, tell stories about them…anything positive to help you maintain their memory and share it with others. This is very therapeutic as well, as the connection between our thoughts, our emotions, and our actions is amazing.
Take your time. Remember that each day will not be a great one, and do not expect otherwise. There will be days that you miss them so badly that you feel like your heart is bleeding. Then there will be other days when you laugh and joke about the weird things they used to do. And then there will be days that you might not even think about them, because you were so busy…don’t feel guilty about that. It’s ok. Just take your time and allowing healing to flow to you, and not to be forced through you.
Take care of yourself. Rest, eat well, exercise, read, write, seek counseling/therapy, and if you pray, pray as much as necessary and then do it even more than that. In order to grieve, you must take care of yourself, in the best way that you are able. Be careful about too much isolation, as this may seem like the logical thing to do when in emotional pain. There is certainly some healing that must be done alone, true, but the majority of it will be done as you continue living your life and involving others. Your friends and family may be hurting too and navigating the grieving and healing process together may benefit everyone.
I know that it is not this easy, and it never will be. But keep trying, and keep working on monitoring what types of thoughts you entertain, and for how long. Keep a close watch on what you are thinking about and the connection to how you are feeling. Watch your confession, the words that are coming out of your mouth, especially toward others. Be kind to yourself and others because you never know what someone is going through.
After losing my Mom, I know that I have been changed forever, but I will not allow this to place a period on living my life. I have to grieve while finding a healthy balance to still live, and enjoy my life experiences. This is what my Mom would want me to do.
My hope is that you will also find healing, peace, and balance while you grieve. Keep fighting for your smile.