It has been a while since I wrote here on the blog, about five months. There is no valid excuse; however, the time off helped me heal. During my time off, I learned that there’s no correct way to grieve. Last November, I lost my grandmother. She was more than that; she was my mom, my rock. The roller coaster of emotions has been unbearable. Some days have been good, while others every little thing reminds me of her.
Grief is an individual road; it is okay to cry, even to be depressed because those are natural responses to our loss. Notwithstanding our loss, we should never stay in a state of grief. When we grieve, we repair ourselves from our loss, not the loss itself, is the hope for the future we hold on to.
The recovery time is individual as well; it may take less compare to others. But since this is not a comparison game and we should take the necessary time, our soul must heal. In all honesty, we may never recover completely from our loss. We learn to live with it and deal with it.
The Five Stages of Grief
Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced The Five Stages of Grief in her book On Death and Dying (1969). Since then, they have been used as a model of understanding grief. The stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Although you may find them in this order, it does not mean you have got to go through them in this particular order. As I mentioned before, to grieve is individual, and since we are different from each other, our grief is distinctive to us.
However, it helps to know these stages to understand our feelings and what we are going through. For instance, after the initial shock, I felt depressed. No denial, no anger, no bargaining. Right into depression. The kind of depression where you seem as usual, but under your smile, there is sorrow. I carry on with my business, but my heart yearned for my “mami” (mom).
I have to insist that these stages are not a one-size-fits-all kind of scheme. These stages were initially meant to understand the terminally ill patients and their process of acceptance of death. Nevertheless, we as relatives also undergo a similar process as they do. Like Dr. Kübler-Ross terminally ill patients, we enter in denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. But that does not mean our grief should follow those stages or any parameter of time. Remember, there is no correct way to grieve.
To Grieve is Personal
Grief is individual. We feel what we feel. It is personal, mine. The grief I feel is my way of dealing with loss. Understanding this helped me deal with my feelings. I took my time. Grief is a road one has to go alone.Grief is a road one has to go alone. Click To Tweet
Unfortunately, many people, with good intentions, I’m sure, try to underestimate grief or at least the process. The generalization of our feelings only exacerbates the problem. The grieving person needs their time. Is okay to leave them alone. What’s more, and I’m talking from my experience, it helps the most when we are left to deal with our feelings by ourselves. We do not feel pressured.
Many nights I found my son crying for his grandma. He didn’t want anyone to see him crying as he thought he needed to remain strong. One time I entered his room and told him it was okay to cry, that if he needed to, he should cry all the times necessary. I believe he was not expecting that. He just said thank you.
On another occasion, I talked to him, I told him that it was okay to feel pain, feel sad, and miss her. He could use those feelings to draw or paint if he wanted to since that is what he likes to do. So, he did. He learned to channel his pain into his art. He knows that if he needs to talk to me, he can. I will never force him to speak nor to stop his feelings. More importantly, I told him that he is the only one that can help him get through his grief.
Now, he is doing okay. Has come to accept grandma is gone, but his love for her is still strong. That he can feel her near when he draws something or when he listens to music she liked. He found his own way through grief.
Like him, I cried many nights… and days while doing the dishes. He would find me crying and just hug me. He knew I had to do it alone like he has done. We helped each other by not interfering with each other’s grief process. We knew we supported each other by respecting our space by not pressuring or rushing our grief.
Giving Time Some Time to Grieve
In the end, it is a matter of time. By no rushing grief its course, we allow ourselves to heal. We allow ourselves to learn to live with it. No, we will never forget our loved ones, nor the pain we feel will disappear. It will only get manageable and our love stronger. But giving time some time to work its magic, we allow ourselves to grieve.
Like magic, we start to smile instead of tears when the thought of our loved one comes to mind. We begin to appreciate those memories. Memories that, for some reason, we have never thought of until then. We re-live moments, not to make ourselves sad but to value their time with us. It is then when we know we are starting to heal. It is then when we know we have accepted their departure.
No one is prepared for losing a loved one – even when we know it is better to end their suffering. It is human nature to not want to let go. It is not selfish. In our unconscious, we know it is better that way, but our conscious tells us otherwise. We think if we accept their death, we are betraying the love we have for each other.
In her last days, my mom/grandma was unable to talk, but we both knew the love we have for each other from our last conversation. We told our goodbyes without knowing it was going to be the last time we would talk. Now, with time, I have come to accept her death. Acceptance of the void left in our family. Acceptance of the things I cannot change, and acceptance of life and death.
To Grieve with Faith
Another aspect that has helped me through this process is my faith. I keep close to my heart His word. We all believe in someone or something, even if it is in not believing at all. Whatever it is your belief or faith, hold it close to your heart, or be open to something new.
One verse in the Bible that I hold on to dearly is Joshua 1:9
Have I not commend you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discourage, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
This verse has always been one of my favorites. It comforted me during times of trial and once more, when my mom passed away. All that comes my way, I can endure. His promise is that He will be with me; I just have to be strong and courageous, don’t be afraid nor discouraged by the circumstances or obstacles life throws at me.
I was not doing my grieving alone. I am sure He was with me.
The lesson learned from my grieving process is that it is personal, and no matter how well intentioned someone’s help is, the only one that can help me is myself. I may not be in the clear, perhaps never will, but I know I have a better understanding of my feelings. Grief is a natural response to loss. It is okay to cry; it is okay to feel sad or to not feel a thing; okay to cry for attention or to keep everything to yourself, and it is okay to ask for help or not ask for help. Ultimately, it is okay to do your own thing because it is your grief.
If you need professional help, please seek it, do not wait! Do not be ashamed of it. There are also support groups to help you to grieve.
Some people can deal with their feelings by themselves; others do not. Guess what? It is okay. Do not compare yourself to anyone.
On the other hand, if you want to help someone going through grief, give them their time and space. Let your friend know you are there whenever they need you. Believe me that will mean the world.
I have to share with you my experience of loss, my silver lining. I know I am not alone in grieving, and by sharing my process with you, hopefully, we can help each other, just like my son and I did.
How do you grieve? Leave me a comment below.