Hello, my awesome friends. I hope this message reaches you well, wherever you may be in your journey. Many of you have faced loss and grief at a young age, prompting me to share insights on dealing with the pain of losing someone you love or care about. Let me begin by sharing a personal experience that has shaped my understanding of this delicate subject.
A few years ago, I lost my father. Admittedly, our relationship had become distant after my parents' divorce when I was just 11. Living in America, far from my native Portugal, made reconnecting challenging. When my brother called, informing me of my father's imminent passing, my wife and I swiftly flew back to Portugal to say our goodbyes.
Those days by my father's side were a unique mix of emotions—regret, shame, anger, sadness, doubt, helplessness, happiness, relief, forgiveness, harmony, and gratitude. It was a rollercoaster of feelings, each one crashing over me like waves. His death occurred on the day my wife and I returned to the U.S. Since then, every anniversary, my amazing wife brings me a plant to commemorate his memory, a ritual that I'll touch upon later.
From this experience, I've distilled some key insights that I believe can be beneficial for you in navigating the complexities of grief:
Expect a Wide Range of Emotions: Grieving is not linear; it's a complex mix of feelings. Understand that emotions will ebb and flow, and it's okay not to have everything under control. Life is intricate, and so are our emotions.
Discard Timelines for Grief: Release the notion of fitting grief neatly into a timeline. Grieving takes its own time—be it a day, a week, a month, or years. Embrace the process, and don't judge yourself or others based on arbitrary timelines.
Break the Silence: Contrary to the misconception that grief should be private, talking about it can be healing. Share your feelings with family, friends, or anyone supportive in your life. Writing through grief can also be a powerful tool.
Reject the Idea of "Moving On": Grief isn't something you move on from; it's a lifelong process of learning to live with the loss. The goal is to find a way to honor the person or thing you've lost and incorporate their memory into your ongoing life.
Now that you have an idea of what to expect, let's explore what you can do:
Allow Yourself to Feel: Engage with your emotions, whether by visiting a grave site, revisiting letters or memories. Acceptance can reduce the impact of persistent grief.
Talk to Someone: Basic as it may sound, talking to someone is crucial. Find a friend, family member, or professional to share your feelings with during this challenging period.
Seek Support: If grief is affecting your daily life, consider seeking extra help. Studies show that finding support can alleviate suffering and enhance your ability to endure difficulties.
Take Care of Yourself: Fundamental yet foundational. Attend to your physical and emotional well-being. Shower, eat well, move your body, and ensure you get adequate sleep.
Honor the Individual by Continuing On: Embrace life with meaningful goals and objectives. It's not about forgetting the person you lost; it's about living with the loss while finding purpose and adventure.
I hope these insights act as signposts on your journey. Grief may feel like a roller coaster, but if you see yourself generally moving forward, you're on the right track. If not, consider additional tools or professional help to regain perspective and motivation. Thank you for allowing me to share, and feel free to pass this along to anyone who might benefit from our conversation.