Some days I feel like a firecracker. It’s as if a single spark could ignite an explosion inside of me, scattering me into so many directions that I’m afraid I won’t ever be able to piece myself back together.
Other days I feel helpless, numb, and devoid of any emotion.
The worst days are when I’m alone in my room or the car, and the stark silence is all too glaring. A wave of sadness sweeps over me, envelopes me, swallows me, drowns me. The lump in my throat expands and expands until I’m left gasping for air and choking on my tears, struggling to regain some sense of self control.
That’s what life sometimes feels like when you’ve watched someone you love gradually deteriorate and die before your eyes. Be it a friend, spouse, parent, child, sibling, uncle, aunt, cousin, or grandparent, watching someone you adore become a shell of the person they once were and then disappear is excruciating. Emotions ebb away and then they creep up on you and take you like a storm.
Nothing fully prepares you for losing someone you love, not even when you think you’re prepared. And no matter who you are, you have or will experience the loss of someone close to you.
A part of me is writing this post because during these past two months, I watched my grandfather’s life slip away like the grains of sand filling the bottom of an hourglass. His time ran out early yesterday morning, and now a person I’ve adored and idolized and loved for all my life is gone. Writing is my coping mechanism.
Another part of me is writing this post because so many of us experience loss, but we just don’t know how to handle it. Fortunately, I’ve learned a few things in the past day or so, especially from all of the wonderful and supportive people in my life. Let’s start first and foremost with what I think is the most important one.
1. It’s Okay to Not be Okay
This one is the one I struggle with most, and I feel like a lot of people struggle with it as well. We may all feel like we have to be strong for the people in our lives. We may not know how to handle the sadness, and so we bury it or push it away or pretend that we aren’t sad, but I think one lesson I’ve learned in all of this is that it’s okay to not be okay for a little while.
It’s okay to be sad. The world won’t end. People won’t run away or see you any differently. It’s part of grieving. It’s part of being human. It’s part of life. And after you’re done being sad, you’ll be okay. Everything will be okay, and you can begin to heal.
2. Accept People’s Help and Surround Yourself with Loved Ones
Sometimes you may want to grieve alone, and that’s totally fine. Just remember to not shut everyone out of your life and to allow yourself to have visitors. It makes you realize that you and your family are not alone, and that you can get through these hard times with so many people ready and willing to help you. It’s also nice to be surrounded by people who may have known and loved this person that you’ve lost because then you won’t have to grieve alone.
My family and I are fortunate enough to have so many friends, family, and community members here for us. There have been so many people who’ve reached out to us, visited us, and expressed their sympathies. Small gestures like those have made all the difference in this process. It’s also been really nice to know that my grandpa has impacted so many people’s lives and that many other people miss him as well.
3. Talk to Someone
This one kind of goes hand in hand with the one above, but it’s important to have someone to talk to. Be it a friend, family member, or even your dog. Whoever it is, it’s okay to be vulnerable and to tell them how you feel. If anything, you’ll feel better having your feelings out there.
4. Do the Things You Love
Continue doing the things you love. Channeling your sadness into something productive is a way to help you move on. I’ve taken to writing and continuing to teach. You might want to cook up a storm or paint or read or watch your favorite movies (what I ended up doing yesterday). Whatever it is, don’t stop following your passions just because you’re sad. The person you lost wouldn’t want you to be anything other than happy.
5. Know That You’ll be Okay
It may not feel like it right now, tomorrow, next week, or even next month. But what you have to know is that you’ll be okay. Life goes on, and you will too. That doesn’t mean that you’ll forget this person who’s passed away. It doesn’t mean that you won’t miss them. And it doesn’t mean that the thought of them won’t make tears prick the back of your eyes. It just means that the bittersweet memories of them will stop being as painful. Eventually they will simply become sweet, and you, my friend, will be okay.
For Grandpa, I will miss your laugh and hugs the most.