A GUIDE TO COPING WITH LOSS
Written By Christopher Allan

     Loss is something everyone at some point or another experiences. When that loss involves losing someone very dear to you it can be especially difficult to deal with. But what this site promotes is that those you have been missing you still have. To help you along in your journey, Christopher Allan has exclusively written this guide that covers many issues one faces with trying to cope with loss.
     The first thing to realize is that each of us deals with challenges in life differently. Grieving over somebody's death is no exception. Grieving is extremely personal & there are many factors that determine how you grieve. Trying to ignore your emotions during your grieving process will make your pain worse in the long run. For healing to take place, we must face our emotions and ourselves head on and ultimately deal with it. The road to recovery may be a long one, but with love and support I have seen first hand the light at the end of the tunnel for many.

Never Got To Say

     Sometimes it is our loved ones actual death that we struggle with that negatively affects our grieving. Sometimes it's our own self inflicting notion of guilt we place on ourselves that makes the grieving process so difficult. Individuals who've lost someone to a sudden passing often have regret not being there at the time of their loved ones departure. Many struggle to come to terms with how they were never there to say one last 'I love you'. When recalling our last moments we shared with someone who is no longer physically here, sometimes a sad reality sets in that we never got to say what we wanted them to hear. Such circumstances leaves us in a state of sorrow.
     In my life, those who I was considerably close with all passed away without me being able to kiss them goodbye. I sympathize with anybody who has also experienced not being able to do so. What helped me along were the memories that I always kept close to my heart.  At some point I decided that the positive experiences I shared with those loved ones & would let their spirit know what I wasn't able to say during their final moments. I always embraced them, I always let them how much they meant to me.  Soon, the burden I had placed on myself seemed if anything, silly. Why did I let myself take those last moments of not being their overshadow all the wonderful times we did share.

     For anybody who wishes they had one last moment with a deceased loved one I urge you to try this exercise. Find a beautifully landscaped area of your town where you can be alone. It can be a park, a meadow or your backyard for that matter. Take in the scenery for a while as you stand there in silence. Close your eyes and recreate where you are in your mind, but now place your loved one as if they were sharing this lovely view with you. Look them in the eyes and share with them everything you wish you had the chance to tell them. Share with them your sorrow, your emotions, most importantly--your love with them. Whatever you feel like you never had the opportunity to share while they were alive, say it to them now. Finally imagine the two of you embracing each other somehow feeling that this long awaited embrace isn't necessarily your last. As you open your eyes and take in the lovely area around you for a second time hopefully you feel as though a weight has been lifted because you got a lot off your chest.
      Faith plays a lot when coming to terms with a persons passing. Believing that someday, we all will meet again and have the chance to speak with each other is what makes us hopeful.
     Grieving is hard enough, putting your own road blocks in the way will make it more difficult. The reality is that life isn't always fair and will go on, it's up to you whether you move on with it.



Don't Rush Me
     Unfortunately there is no set timetable that will determine when we are done grieving. Infact, we will never be truly done. We will always miss those we loved and this should go as a testament to just how strong your relationship was with them. Just like a disease, grieving can have a similar affect on us. But unlike an illness, we never fully heal. What happens with is over time we learn, whether we like to or not, to adapt with it. It's a hard acceptance, but ultimately we must give in. It's like annoying bug we can't shew off of our shoulders. Rather than fight with it, when the time is right we must accept it & be a scar you can talk about. But how & when that realization comes into play is solely up to you. Those who aren't grieving may not understand what you are going through. Some may question why are still are struggling after a while.  My advice to you is to tell them that you are your own person and you have your reasons to feel how you feel.  As one grieving mother once told me 'I now take life one day at a time.'  And hopefully one day, instead of crying, you find yourself laughing when you think of your loved one. Opps? Did you mean to do that? What's happening is you are learning, you are adjusting, you will walk again.
     Do not feel guilty that you now smile when thinking of your loved one. They probably gave you a millions reason to smile. Working with grief requires time. Just like a patient teacher I will tell you to be patient with yourself & let it unfold naturally.



Expressing Yourself
     You can try to suppress or even ignore your grief, but you can't avoid it forever. In order to heal, you have to acknowledge the pain. Trying to avoid feelings of sadness and loss only prolongs the grieving process. Unresolved grief can also lead to complications such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and health problems. To help, think about how you have handled other crises in your life. This might give you insight into what has been best for you and reveal some transferable skills to help you now. Try to be nonjudgmental with yourself and others. Write about your loss. Get it down on paper! Celebrate their life by creating a scrap book and let it be a reminder to all the good emotions that you once felt with them.
       A huge myth is that if you find yourself not crying, it somehow means you are starting to forget them or you aren't sorry about the loss anymore. Crying is a normal response to sad emotions. but it is not the only one. You may find yourself finding a different way to show it.
      The lesson of the story is not to hold anything in. Be honest with yourself. If you are lucky, you may have a family that can lean on. If you struggle to find an outlet to express yourself, try it through art. If you lack artistic ability or feel you need further assistance try to find a support group. If you start sharing your emotions, you may find that there are people who are feeling the same way you do. Thus, you don't have to go through this experience alone. And for some, maybe that was the whole lesson in the first place.



Finding Solace
     As stated before, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. But for many, getting there is a struggle in itself. But remember, what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. Experiencing loss can be an extremely stressful experience so it is important that you prioritize looking after yourself. Eating regular healthy meals and getting enough sleep are vital in enabling the body to cope with stress. You may find that during the period of intense grief that you may want to do something more focused around relaxing your body. The ideas below will all assist you to tune in and relax your body and can bring you a sense of calm and peace during hard times. Some may find solace in rituals. Listening to music, meditating are great when trying to clear your mind and focus on getting through rough spots in your life. Your eyes see clearer when your mind is as well.
     Memorialize someone can greatly benefit you and those around you as well. Plant a tree or garden, participate in running in a charity run or walk (a breast cancer race, for example) in honor of the lost loved one can touch not just you, but others as well. Thus, we not only help heal ourselves, but the wounds of others.

Helping someone struggling with grief.
     It is common to feel awkward when trying to comfort another who is grieving. Many never know what to say to people in grief.  For starters, be as genuine as possible when communicating. For example "I heard that your [Uncle] has died" Use the word "died" to show that you are more open to talk about how the person really feels. Express your concern "I'm sorry this happened to you" Be honest, "I'm not sure what to say, but I am here for you and I truly care". Try to offer your support. "Tell me what I can do for you". Sometimes in hard situations, in regards to what to say, less is more.

 

Coping With The Holidays
     The holidays can always be a struggle when you know of someone close to you that has passed away. I should know, my own Grandmother passed away the day after Christmas in 1996. After that, the Holidays were never the same again. It has been over a decade without seeing her unwrap the presents, smiling, laughing, or even attempting to dodge the video camera. As much as I miss the holidays that took place when she was alive, I still look forward to those celebrations because of my family still alive.  I also learned and have always felt that she is still with us.
     Grandma's house was always THE house that the whole family would go to like any traditional Italian family. Since her passing we have had it at my aunts house. Every year we go there, I think back to the times that we opened the presents in my grandmothers living room with the perfectly decorated tree, when things seemed simple. And those memories make me get to me, but then I get that warm feeling. Its those feelings and those memories that you rely on to get you thru the loss.  After I take in all those memories at Grandma's house, I am reminded that we are all on a journey, and journeys can include transitions and how you deal with changes. So please take the time in your shopping, baking, blizzard driving weeks, to acknowledge that you are going thru a transition that you must go through, and acknowledge those you share that transition with.
     The loss of a loved can be extremely hard to cope around a festive time of year, but remember, odds are, you're not the only one mourning. I believe it is very important that you find someone else who is going thru similar emotions of grief and 'attempt' to find an outlet.
     With the experiences I have been apart of and shared with so many of you, I know that your family on the 'Other Side' wants you to move on just as they are.Though at times it is difficult, we must try to keep their memories alive.  It's important to o make sure their spirit becomes a part of not just the holidays, but every celebration, and every day of our lives.  Life does go on and so will we.
     Remember, with effort, understanding, and support, you will survive grief. Someday the pain will lessen, leaving you with cherished memories of your loved one. Keep the faith. Christopher. 



Coping With Loss was written by Christopher Allan exclusively for his site imstillhere.net .