Nothing compares to the moment you lose someone close to you, time just stops.
Well, that’s how I felt when my dad died.
I’ve wanted to write a post like this for a while, for two reasons, one, to help me work through my own grief, but two, to also help others understand a part of what grief is like.
Hopefully in turn, if you read this and you know someone who is currently going through a similar situation, you can offer some words of comfort, or if you are in this situation you find useful parallels which provide some perspective.
The first thing to mention is that grief is different for every single person, what I write here is personal to me, but I fully accept not everyone will feel the way I do and that is okay! It’s important you grieve the way you feel necessary, because only you had that relationship with that person, and every different relationship deserves to be grieved differently.
JUST BE THERE.
If you are a friend of someone who is experiencing grief, I think it is important to remember that there is nothing you can say to make it better, you can’t bring them back and that’s all they want. In experience the best thing to do is offer support, almost sympathise, accept that the situation is sh*t and provide little comforts in the things you know how, like watching a film, walking the dog etc. Actually be there. Me and my mum discussed this a lot because when someone dies it feels as if the world and his wife has read “The Death” script, reciting: “I’m sorry for your loss”, “I’m here if you need me”. Whilst I understand this is often said by people, as they quite frankly don’t know what else to say and want to offer condolences, the words become meaningless after a while. Real friends become apparent in moments like these because they go the extra mile, though they may say “I’m here if you need me” they really are, they turn up when you don’t want them to, just to give you a hug, they constantly check if you’re okay, they’re not just a one-time text and friends like this are so so important.
YOU DON’T JUST GET OVER IT.
It’s important to understand that grief doesn’t just go away, 1 year, 5 years, 20 years, that pain still remains. I think what many people don’t realise is that grief can present itself physically. When my dad died my heart actually hurt, I used to grab at my chest to try and stop the pain, my heart felt physically broken. That pain doesn’t just disperse after a year. That why it is so important to have friends that say “they are here” even if it is 2 years later.
Though not to be all doom and gloom, that pain does subside and becomes more and more irregular.
The thing is grief works in mysterious ways, it jumps on you when you least expect and catches you at a moments notice. I can only characterise grief as a sort of creature that lives in the pit of my stomach, its lived there so long I forget its there, but as soon as I think of my dad or something triggers a memory, I can’t do anything else but feel it. Grief climbs up from the base of my ribs, grabs at my throat and tugs at my eyes and I’m totally at its mercy. It’s horrible having little to no control over something that lives inside you.
However, as time does go on you gain more and more control!
TALK ABOUT THEM.
Right, this is a tricky one and I imagine almost more so for the outsider. Do we mention the deceased? In my eyes, YES.
To me it’s how we keep them alive. We do It in our memories, but you can’t bring memories to life if you don’t share them. They say you learn more about a person once they’re dead!?
Please tell me, did he make you laugh? Did he offer an act of kindness? Did he affect your life, in any way? I want to know. He can’t tell me, so you’ll have to. By doing this, you automatically bring me closer to him, and that’s something I’ll respect until the day I die.
If you’re worried about upsetting the person, don’t be, whilst it may initially, it goes much deeper than that. Depending on the memories, it can lead to: admiration, love, inspiration, respect, but to name a few.
My history teacher always spoke about my dad with such enthusiasm, she didn’t act like his death had never happened, nor that he never existed and that’s something I will be eternally grateful for.
BTW obviously I am only talking about sharing good memories, remember this is a person some one loves, bad-mouthing them wont help at all.
TAKE WHAT LIFE THROWS AT YOU AND THROW IT BACK.
Death is horrible, there’s no two ways about it. But we can’t just sit there and feel sorry for ourselves (Don’t get me wrong you can have days when you do that, just not your whole life!). So whilst my life has been hit with overwhelming sadness, I’ve also been hit with a determination and drive for life that I didn’t have before.
Though grief is a monster that lives in my stomach, we now work together, he spurs me on in moments of weakness, he puts my head firmly on my shoulders, he ignites a fire in my belly that allows me to face the world head on. Because my grief, is also a part of my dad, and he will always be there, through the good and the bad. I’m never alone, I have twice the strength, knowledge and gumption I had before.
So yes, I may appear unlucky but I am also one of the luckiest. My dad was adored by all who knew him and it’s because he was such a great man I now feel I can do anything I put my mind to and it’s because we’re working together.
It’s me and my grief against the world.
So, for friends of those who have been bereaved, be there and mean it. Understand that not everyday is a good day, even 50 years down the line and NEVER stop talking about them. (Even if you never knew them, ask questions, show interest, keep them alive in their memories)
And for those who have lost someone, It is sh*t, IT IS OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY, but also remember you’re doing great, there’s no rule book on it, so do it your way!