Grieving the loss of a loved one. This is an interesting topic because not many people talk about death and dying and especially not when it comes to death by suicide. So how to cope had agreed what's okay what's, not okay to a certain degree. when we talk about grieving the loss of a loved one I think people kind of typically go to death by natural causes so we're talking about someone that is toward the end of their life and they die of old age or maybe it's not necessarily end of life, but it's a long term disease like cancer or Alzheimer's or Something like that. That kind of death is easier to cope with because you have some time to prepare for the loss and the change in your lifestyle and the change in the relationship that you want to have with. That loved one. So when you are in that process the grieving starts I don't know it could be a year or more prior to That person's actual passing away it's important during that time to really reflect on what do I want my relationship to be like with this loved one What are some of the things that I'd like to kind of get ironed out. Maybe there's some kind of disagreement or there's some kind of bad blood between the two of you it's a time for you to reflect and decide if That's something that you want to address or not And even if there isn't bad blood It's a time for you to decide how do you want to show love to that person. How do you want them to show love to you. It's a very much a kind of being mindful. Practice If you can be mindful through the process at the end you will often feel much more satisfied in that relationship in general and you will be able to grieve through the loss a little bit easier because they are not a ton of regrets and that's one of the things that comes up a lot is having regret
Dealing with Regret
Now that sounds great because that's kind of like in an ideal world Everyone would have an opportunity to spend some time with their loved one before they actually leave this world but that doesn't always happen. So when you have a sudden death like car accident or maybe it’s like a sudden heart attack or there's a drug or substance abuse overdose or something like that, maybe it's some kind of a freak accident and it Very sudden. Those are really difficult to grieve because there tends to be significantly more regret than if you had the time to process and greedy through weeks months or years So, when a sudden death comes upon us It's important to be able to take care of yourself. Do what you need to do to feel not like “okay” but to feel like you're not losing your mind. Also know that it's a process. When something suddenly like that happens no one’s ever prepared for it. Even when you kind of know, it might be coming you’re never really prepared for it. When a sudden death occurs that’s when we really start needing to dive into our coping tool box. The idea is if you have a tool box with lots of really shiny great tools in it, you can get a lot done. If your toolbox is kind of old and dusty and the tools inside or dull or maybe all you have is a screw driver, but you really need a hammer that makes it really hard.
Preparing to Grieve
When you’re preparing to grieve anything it kind of starts with today so that you have the tools available that when that kind of set in death occurs you’ll have something available to help you to help get through the difficulties of not having the time to say goodbye. More as we think about like leveling up the next level of difficult death or loss is death by suicide because not only is that set in and it’s almost always like unexpected and sometimes just like out of the blue. But it’s also someone taking their own life and it's really difficult for people to wrap your head around. Why would somebody do that? But the truth is it happens a lot and there are statistics all over the place right now that show that death by suicide is on the rise. It's number two in the nation especially when we talk about young children, teenagers as young as 12 years old.
So when a death by suicide happens there's the suddenness but there's also a ton of judgement. There’s a ton of people that just don't understand It's very hard It's for the most part I think people have kept it a secret for a long time. They might say something like “Oh my! My father or my uncle or my mom you know they died five years ago.” But they don't necessarily say of suicide; they almost always say when it's of cancer or something like that but hardly anybody says that their loved one died of suicide. There's too much judgement. There's a lot of stigma, it’s kept secret but it’s really difficult to manage through. It's really difficult to cope and grieve the loss of someone that has taken their own life. Again creating your coping tool box now is going to help you whether. Its tomorrow next month next year next 10 years in trying to manage and grieve through these processes in an appropriate way
What Goes in Our Toolbox
So right now, we’ve talked about the different types of death and grieving and how some of them are more complicated than others you have death by natural causes. You have sudden death and there's death by suicide. So now we want to talk about what do we put in that toolbox If I'm going to have a toolbox What do I put in there? I think the number one thing to put in your tool box or try to develop and hone so that It's available for your toolbox is a list of People that you can go to so that you're not alone. Often times when we are grieving we choose to isolate. It feels the most controlled. If something around me is out of control I want to try to control things and so I may isolate. The truth of the matter is when you isolate it’s really difficult to take care of yourself because at some point we're just not made to always take care of ourselves. We need the support and love of others to help us through difficult times
So Don't be alone, have a List of friends or family. It could be your therapist. It could be many therapists. It can be a group. Groups are actually quite powerful. They offer an opportunity for us to be around people that are experiencing the same or something very similar to what you've experienced. And sometimes when you have a sudden death or maybe there's a death you thin is not Usual it's, really hard to find people that understand what It's like for you to be the survivor of someone that died in this way or by these means. So finding a group can be incredibly helpful and there are many resources available. There is a grief and loss organization in West Los Angeles called Our House and there's another one in Long Beach called the House of Hope. They offer resources and retreats and groups and books, and all different kinds of things. So I highly recommend if you're going through the grieving process to look into somebody's resources and try attending a group. So that would go in your toolbox
What else would go in your toolbox? Well probably a note to yourself to talk about it and keep talking about it. Even when people are kind of telling you like gosh, you know that was like two years ago you should be over it by now. That just doesn't have to be the case. Sometimes people don't even start to feel the lost the true loss for six months to 12 months later because It's such a shock to the system. So talk and keep talking if you feel you need and when people tell you to get over it just to be able to tell yourself talking about it is okay. And there's no reason why I should be over it no matter how long ago it was. Also another thing to put in your tool box is all the things that you can do to make yourself feel better. Maybe that means getting your nails done. Maybe that means getting a massage. Maybe that means having dinner with a friend that you haven't seen in a while who you know gets what it means to have a loss. But maybe it’s also just being alone. Maybe it's visiting your loved ones grave if they have one. Maybe it is writing a letter to your loved one. Maybe it's creating something like a painting or a drawing or a meal in honor of your loved one. There are so many ways that you can just think about what would feel good for you. and sometimes it's something that no one would think of like, maybe what would feel good to me is to go to a basketball game because me and my love when used to do that all the time. Really sit down and think about what would be best for you? What's going to help you to be able to feel the emotions that are coming up for you and not push them away.
When we push the emotions away it just gets buried inside. They don’t go anywhere and usually when you bury something inside it just festers and it gets ugly. Feeling is a good thing. That is why talking to people that you trust and talking to people that understand is so important because the way you feel is the way you feel It's also good to understand or put in your tool box that even though there are the stages of grief not everybody follows the stages Sometimes you're going to jump around to different stages. Sometimes you going to stay in this stage for a really long time. Grief is very complicated it doesn't happen easily. It doesn't happen like okay. Well, I've hit my two week mark. I should be like this so understand maybe the stages of grief but please don't expect yourself to be a hundred percent in alignment or in compliance with what you've read in the stages. Maybe you just stay in one stage I don't know. Everyone’s different and everyone grieves differently so being open to putting more tools in your tool box is great. This doesn't mean that you have to take every tool that somebody hands you even the things that I'm discussing now doesn't mean you have to take them and use them. It just means I'm giving you ideas then you get to decide if you're going to do with them, or not.
Make a Note to Yourself
The last thing that I want to discuss about coping is making another note for yourself that it is okay to feel any emotion. Most people feel sad. Many people feel angry, sometimes people feel happy or relieved. There are so many different emotions that are going to come up for you and they're all 100 percent Okay. You can believe it or not, love someone and hate them at the same time. All that is okay. so order your feelings and whatever feelings come up for you
My Personal Experience with Grief
I happen to have a personal experience with grieving the loss of a loved one to death by suicide. Today happens to be my Brother's birthday and he died by suicide July of last year. This post may seem a little grim but it's also very top of my mind today and I wanted to share with you all. Anyone else out there that is struggling with grieving the loss of a loved one again that you're not alone. It's happening all over and it’s happening every day. As long as you're working hard to put tools into your tool box you’ll be able to work through it and It's all going to be okay.