It was also affecting me physically, and I absolutely had to make a change in my life. Dealing with death is a process -- one that may very well continue until my later years in life, and one that is constantly evolving.
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I took a moment to reflect on the past two years my father passed on Aug. My brother is younger than me by only three years, and the way he processed the death was completely different than mine.
Yet he was the only one who knew exactly what I had been through, from the time that my father got diagnosed up until his death. I often tried to compare my situation with those of others -- sometimes just to measure my level of grief to gauge if I was overreacting, or set a potential expiration date of when the pain I was feeling would go away. Was it okay that I was crying myself to sleep every single night a year and a half later?
Coping With Death and Grief | Focus on the Family
I've realized that everyone processes death in a different way. Knowing this means that you don't have to second guess your thoughts, feelings and actions. This is your personal journey, and you're allowed to feel, think, say or do whatever it is that you need to heal. Although I appreciated the messages, emails and voicemails from friends saying "sorry for your loss" and telling me to let them know if I needed anything, every message I received was also a stinging reminder that it had happened.
I was in denial and didn't want to face the fact that it had happened -- I hated checking my phone only to see constant reminders of my father's death. I thus closed myself off from everyone I knew. I didn't talk about it.
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I internalized all of that pain to wake up, put a plastic smile on my face and go on about my life, going through the motions and never truly processing the event. Opening up about my feelings allowed me to start the healing process. It took me over a year and a half, but it was on my own time, and when I was ready to open up, I did.
I completely threw up everything I had been feeling while my father was sick with cancer on a blog post while on a bus from New York to Virginia Beach to go visit him. After he passed, I left everything to travel the world for and with my father. I took a lifesize cutout of him with me all across Europe and accidentally told his story to the world through a photography project.
Whether it's to a parent, best friend, sibling, professional therapist, counselor or complete stranger, opening up about death does not mean you are weak -- it means you're strong enough to be honest with the world, but most importantly yourself. Be strong for your family. So you know what I did? I pretended like everything was okay because I didn't want to appear weak and vulnerable to my mom or brother. I couldn't make them worry about me. I couldn't cause them more pain or anxiety by letting them know I was in the midst of an extended marathon of an emotional breakdown.
I kept everything inside and never showed them how f-cked up I was, consequently building an emotional dungeon around me. I didn't even give them a chance to be there for me, and that only started a chain reaction. Supporting your loved ones is about give and take. When you let yourself be vulnerable, you invite others to be vulnerable around you. One day when you're feeling like complete sh-t, they'll be there for you.
Then when they have a day when they feel like complete sh-t, they'll come to you and you'll be there for them.
Close yourself off and you'll always feel alone, and that's not how it should be. I had always been the person to feel uncomfortable asking for things from my friends. If I needed something, I was hesitant to ask anyone. Even though all I wanted was for someone to listen while I vented about my frustrations and pain, I never picked up the phone and called my friends. I didn't answer when they called. I went into my closet, closed the door, turned off the lights, and cried until I passed out from a migraine. This happened every single day for eight months.
One day, my good friend Sherri sent me a text message right in the middle of my fit. I responded back to her for the first time in weeks and aired out everything I had felt at the exact moment.
While everyone finds their own way to grieve it's important to have the support of friends and family or someone else, and to talk about your loss when you need to. Many people do not know what to say or do when trying to comfort someone who is grieving. However, often it is the simple offer of love and support that is the most important. Grief and depression are quite different but they can appear similar as they can both lead to feelings of intense sadness, insomnia, poor appetite and weight loss. Depression stands out from grief as being more persistent, with constant feelings of emptiness and despair and a difficulty feeling pleasure or joy.
If you notice that depression symptoms continue, or your grief begins to get in the way of how you live, work, share relationships or live day-to-day, then it's important to get support or professional help. Sign up below for regular emails filled with information, advice and support for you or your loved ones. You are currently: Home The facts Grief and loss. Grief and loss What are grief and loss?
Talk to friends and family about how you are feeling, or consider joining a support group. Take care of your physical health. Grieving can be exhausting, so it's important to eat a healthy diet, exercise and sleep. Manage stress — lighten your load by asking friends, family members or work colleagues to help you with some chores or commitments. Relaxation and gentle exercise can be helpful. How to help a person who is experiencing grief and loss Many people do not know what to say or do when trying to comfort someone who is grieving.
10 Things I Learned While Dealing With the Death of a Loved One
Ask how they're feeling. Grief after someone we love dies can be overwhelming and even traumatic. Even though many people are able to successfully cope with and adapt to a loss, individuals who have lingering pathological or traumatic grief may need to seek professional services to overcome their emotional pain. Whether the loss was actual or symbolic, he believed that unresolved feelings of guilt and other negative emotions stemming from the loss of someone we held dear could subsequently be directed inward toward oneself, which he called introjection.
Bowlby later suggested that the neurophysiological processes that produce changes in our affect, behavior, and cognition can be prolonged or amplified in the face of complicated or unresolved grief. The symptoms that arise during complicated grief reactions can be so severe that they may even resemble those experienced with major depressive disorder MDD , anxiety disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD. Grief during bereavement may itself induce such great emotional and psychological suffering that it can impact how a person functions in his or her life.
Although dealing with grief is a normal part of loss and bereavement, we can experience and cope with loss in different ways. Loss can bring us closer to people who are still in our lives and provide us with a unique opportunity to find out more about ourselves. Eventually, the physical aching and pain subside after the death of a loved one.
But there is one statement that is not true for bereaved parents. That the pain subsides. I have met with parents, both virtually and in person, and their is one truth that is universal for all of them- no matter how many years the pain does not go away. Years later, they still grieve. There is nothing comparable to the intense, debilitating pain of losing a child. The pain will always be there, and it can be excruciating at times, and you will continue on with your life, and some days will be better than others, but your heart will never stop mourning the unconditional, eternal love most parents have for their children.
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