Very recently I watched a Ted Talk by Nora McInerny and she shared her experience of loss. Losing her second pregnancy, then her dad and then her husband all within a month or so. What I love that she mentions is how people’s immediate reactions are “I can’t even imagine” but truly, we can imagine, and we should because someday it’s going to happen. And I’m not talking about the day you die; I’m referring to the people that you love. I say it all the time. Death doesn’t discriminate.
Before I go on to answer the big question behind this blog, it’s important you know that I’ve had my fair share of loved ones pass and it’s why I there are simply two things I would love for you to take away from reading this. (move forward and your beliefs)
I was 12 when death came and smacked me in the face, punched me in the gut and knocked the wind out of me. We received a phone call that my cousin was badly injured and to be told shortly after that he was gone. This felt like the biggest sucker punch to my family. My cousin Tim was only 20 years old. I didn’t fully understand death right then and there. I didn’t fully know how to process or how to cope.
I went from thinking that this could never happen to my family too, not again.
Since my cousin, I’ve lost someone who was much like an aunt, a grandfather, two uncles, two grandmothers, and close friends. From sudden freak accidents to illnesses like cancer, to suicide. It all hurts the same.
In 2015, almost a decade after I lost my cousin, I felt that same feeling in my stomach when my grandmother Vovó Mesquite passed 4 days after suffering a stroke on Mother’s Day. My heart was hurting, badly, yet there was something different brewing within.
I finally realized that life is short. And that if I wanted to do the things my heart was calling me to do, then I better get to it. And so, I did.
WE DO NOT MOVE ON FROM GRIEF, WE MOVE FORWARD WITH IT
In the Ted Talk, Nora said it so beautifully, we do not move on from grief, we move forward with it. And that is the first most important thing in order to answer, “how do you deal with loss”. There is no manual to this process of grief. So, cry if you need to, be angry if you need to, and don’t feel guilty when you crack a smile or laugh. Because you will, and that’s okay.
I have no control of who I lose, or how I lose them. What I do have control of is how I show up in life before that day comes. All that looks like is, be present.
When I’m with family, my boyfriend or my friends, I keep the phone away and soak in all that is happening, being said and I’m remembering. The last thing I ever wish upon anyone is regret after someone passes. Regret can eat away at you so deep and keep you stuck in your grief.
And if you are experiencing guilt, know that your bond and relationship doesn’t just end because you can’t physically see or hear your loved one. You can apologize. You can still heal your relationship. If you’re open to that and if you believe it.
Which leads me to the last thing that has carried me through my grief journey. My beliefs. There’s a difference between hearing when someone tells you “they are still with you” to actually believing it in your core. When I think about grief, the ones I’ve lost, and I close my eyes. I see myself standing tall and behind me, all of the people are behind me like an army. This image fills me with so much love and happiness in my heart.
THIS JOURNEY IS YOURS…
But you are NOT alone on it. Grieve the way you need, as long as it’s healthy. Know that there is tremendous support available to you. There are people willing to be that space that allow you to speak or cry if you need. [That’s totally me btw!]
And if you’re looking for more support, there is an organization very dear to my heart called Bereaved Families of Ontario. They have several chapters across the province if you’re in Ontario, Canada. If you’re not, look for peer support groups as they are the most beautiful healing models out there.
Loss isn't easy. And there's no one set manual or one specific thing that will take the sadness and hurt away. I wish there was.
I choose to use the loss as a reminder to be grateful, to stay present, to not spend my energy on things that aren't important or out of my control, to learn, and to carry on the legacy they left with me.
I'm not an expert on grief, I'm an expert on my grief and how I cope. And I'd love to learn how you cope with loss? And it can be any kind, not just a loved one.
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