“Nobody prepares you for death; neither your friends nor your family.” - Sourish, lost his parents and his spouse.
Losing a loved one is an experience that leaves a deep void in our lives and reshapes us in ways we can never imagine. The pain and grief that accompany a loss can be overwhelming, as we navigate through a rollercoaster of emotions, ranging from intense sorrow to fear, anger, frustration and more. While death is common, it is still considered taboo in our society. This means that there is often a lack of awareness of how to cope with a loss.
Here are some ways to help you tide over the various stages of grief.
Understand that you don’t have to grieve alone
Losing someone dear to you can feel isolating but remind yourself that you are not alone in this pain. It is okay to lean on your loved ones through such trying times. "When my father passed away, I was overwhelmed – my responsibilities multiplied in a second. I ended up suppressing my feelings for almost nine years. Looking back, I wish I had talked about it sooner to someone.” says Arun, one of our peers who lost his father to cancer.
Friends and family members who have experienced a loss can extend a unique source of understanding and empathy. Sharing your feelings and vulnerabilities with them can foster a connection that helps lighten the sense of loneliness that often accompanies grief. Their experiences can offer you valuable insights, coping strategies, and most importantly hope that life can eventually find its new normal.
Accept the help of others
While talking to your close ones can be liberating, some people tend to express themselves more freely to a stranger. In such scenarios, a good alternative is to look into grief support groups. While it is quite uncommon in most countries, in the past few years grief counselling in India has been picking up as a result of the recent pandemic. Grief support groups are invaluable resources that provide safe spaces to share your story, listen to others who are going through similar experiences, and learn from their coping mechanisms.
Attending such groups will help you connect with individuals who are experiencing similar feelings, which creates a sense of belonging and helps validate the multitude of emotions you may be feeling as you grapple with the loss. Grief support groups can be found both in-person and online, making it easier to connect with people who understand your journey.
Another option is 1-on-1 conversations where you connect with a trained individual called a peer. Peers are people who have gone through a similar situation and so can have an in-depth conversation with you to exchange perspectives and find support.
Take your time to grieve
The grieving phase can be quite uncertain, making us question — How long will I be grieving? While studies suggest that it takes approximately 6 months to 2 years, it’s important to remember that grief doesn't adhere to a strict timeline. Your healing process is unique to you. In a conversation with Aparna on grieving the loss of her mother, she expressed, ”It comes in waves... Even today morning something happened and my first thought was to call and tell my mother. I lost her 2 years ago and it still takes me a minute to realise that she’s not around anymore.”
Grief healing is a continuous process which can span from months to years. So, let yourself experience the full range of emotions that come with grieving, without pressuring yourself to "move on" too quickly. Make sure you mourn your loss your way. Try not to compare your progress to others, as everyone's journey is personal. Allow yourself to grieve at your own pace, knowing that healing is not linear and that it is okay to have both good and bad days.
Find ways to keep their memory alive
A common fear that creeps into our minds when we lose a loved one is the thought that our memory of that person may fade - like the way they laughed or how their voice sounded. While this may seem inevitable, there are things you can do to still have them as a part of your life. One beautiful way to honour your loved one's memory is by sharing stories and memories of them.
Collect anecdotes from family members and friends to create a keepsake that celebrates their life and their journey. This can be anything — a scrapbook, a digital memorial, or even sharing sweet anecdotes about them during gatherings. Keeping their memory alive not only provides comfort but also gives you the chance to focus on the positive and joyful moments you shared.
Talk to a professional if you have trouble coping with grief.
Sometimes, the weight of grief becomes too much to bear despite all the help you are receiving from your friends and family. If you find yourself struggling to cope with your emotions, consider reaching out to a mental health professional, such as a therapist or a grief counsellor.
These experts are trained to guide you through the complex layers of grief and provide you with the right tools to manage your emotional challenges. You can check with a friend or if you are uncomfortable with that, multiple platforms are available online to help you get connected to a therapist who understands your situation. Seeking professional help is a sign of strength and self-care, and it can make a significant difference in your healing journey.
So while grief may feel like an unconquerable obstacle now, remember that there are always different kinds of support available to help you navigate your journey. Whether it is seeking solace from those who have experienced loss, joining grief support groups, taking your time to heal, keeping their memories alive, or seeking professional help, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to healing. Embrace your unique journey and be kind to yourself throughout the process. With time, support, and self-compassion, you can find a path toward healing and growth after loss.
If you are someone who has recently gone through a loss or know of somebody who is currently grieving, SoulUp provides 1-on-1 conversations with peers who have had similar experiences as well as therapist-led Support Groups for grief/loss.
By Anagha R