There’s no cheat sheet on how to deal with grief. There’s no handbook that tells you how long it will last, when the sadness will settle in, how long it will take or how long you will be in denial until you crash and have a hysteric crying session in the shower on some random Tuesday after work. A year or two may pass by and you feel like you’ve finally dealt with your loss. Until, your mind travels to a memory of the one you’ve lost and it transitions from a jovial reminder of them, into a sorrowful realization that there are no more opportunities to create any new memories.
Questioning my belief
It hurts. Quite simple right? …No! It’s a pain that grips at your throat and pulls it down to your stomach. It fills your head with air and then rushes into your ear canal. It pools your eye sockets with water that you try so hard to hold back but the force behind it is like a dam breaking, now saturating your cheeks. That pain has caused me to question God and everything I’ve grown to believe in. I would hear what was suppose to be consoling words like, “God makes no mistake”, “Everything happens for a reason”, “It was their time” yea ok! I didn’t want to hear it, not from friends, not from family that was handling it better than I was, nor from the pastor giving the sermon at the funeral.
Yea yea I know we won’t all live forever. But in the moment of misery you’re not thinking of the logical side of life. You’re angry, distraught and maybe even delusional. I was all of that and then some in 2014 when I lost two of my cousins. Up until that point I had never lost anyone so close to me who was also close in age. I couldn’t come to terms with it for a long time and I even spiraled for a year or even more. Began drinking a lot, socially that is, but having just one person around was social enough for me. I even stopped working out and ate everything in sight. I kept replaying in my head the last time I saw/spoke to them and my mood would change instantly.
It would happen everywhere too. At work, one minute I’m in the zone focusing on my tasks for the day and then the next I would just stare off into space and start thinking about them and I wouldn’t even notice that I was crying until someone asked if I was ok or if I needed to take a break. I was quick to say “I’m fine” knowing damn well that I wasn’t, but I would just save my crying for when I got home.
In this case, saying something enough times did not make me believe it. Constantly saying “I’m fine” was farthest from the truth. The days were long and the nights were even longer. Sleep was a luxury of the past and coffee four to five times a day (because apparently you cant drink whiskey at work *eye roll*) was my new normal. I began to hate hearing the questions regarding my emotional state, so I put on the happy smiling face for the public. Avoidance was my way of maintaining my sanity.
New loss opens old wounds
So fast forward to five years later where I have found peace and I believe to my core that I am perfectly fine. There’s no more mourning. Just beautiful, fun memories and great stories. Stories to tell younger family members who didn’t get the luxury of knowing them as well as I did. Then out of nowhere I get news that someone else has passed. Unexpectedly, and all of a sudden I’m back on the emotional grief filled rollercoaster
See, I felt this loss for common reasons which was the connection I had with them but also the connection I had to the people who had a deeper relationship with them than I did. What I found strange about my emotions was that I began to relive 2014 all over again. What her immediate family was going through was also what I was experiencing even though I was in the distant family category (more like adoptive family but with Belizeans these separations don’t matter). But I had to remain strong as I tried my best to support the family the best way I could.
I cope with laughter
I will crack jokes and be as extra as I possibly can to combat the sadness for myself as well as those around me. Some jokes might even be inappropriate to some. However, my soul was in a dark place and that’s where I pull energy from in those hard times. The comedy is only temporary and I’m well aware that it doens’t mend anything in the slightest. But now I understand that coping with loss does not mean that I will never feel it again. I may not be able to control my emotions in those situations but at least I will understand where they stem from. And I won’t think that I’m insane or that I have no business feeling the way that I do.
Coping with loss doen’t mean you’re over it. It just means that you’re human and you can’t live life mourning every waking minute. But it’s more than ok to miss the person or people you have loss along the way.