Loss. The word alone can trigger so much emotion from someone who has lost someone close to them. Loss is heavy, hard and often an unbearable emotion that we wish we could easily file away. But it can’t. Grief has to be felt and lived-in in order for it to begin to feel easier. Even then the weight of loss is never fully gone.
When I lost my father last year, I didn’t have time to be sad. I didn’t have time to feel his loss in ways that I would have if I wasn’t so focused on avoiding them. Fast forward six months from his passing and I am angry, I am angry and I am sad and I don’t want to be. I am tired of being sad. Rationally, the therapist in me knows. She knows why my sadness is leaking through, she knows. But I wasn’t ready to face it. Because to face it meant to feel unbearable emotional pain. The kind of pain that stabs you right into your inner core. The kind of pain that leaves you practicing your breath, because you don’t know any other way to breathe. That pain. That pain is hard. It sucks and I know it needs to be felt. I know I have to sit in it.
So, how do we move forward after loss? You have to face the sadness. You allow yourself to be sad. You allow yourself to feel the pain and loss. You take the time to find things you love to do to help you through the process. The process of coping and dealing with the heaviness. But you allow yourself to feel. You have to sit in. Cry it out. You might have to cry it out many times. You might even find yourself looking at something that reminds you of them and your eyes water and you can’t help feel so sad and you wish, just for one second, that they could be there with you. But they are gone.
Writing or keeping a journal has helped many people explore their feelings.
Write them a letter - though it can never be sent, it feels like you are speaking with them and sharing things that you may have not had the chance to share when they were around.
Talk about them. Share your stories. The good and the bad. Talking with a professional who works with loss & grief can help you process their loss and give you the space you need to really allow yourself permission to mourn.
... and remember, it takes time. The hardest is the first couple of years… the special occasions, the holiday seasons, even your personal accomplishments feel harder now because they're not there to share it with, but with time, it will get easier. A little easier. You’ll never stop feeling sad and missing them… but it will hurt less and it will be more and more bearable to be away from those we love and have lost. The pain becomes more manageable and they become a part of you in a new way.
One day at a time...