Grief is one of the unavoidable emotions of life. And losing loved ones is inevitable. Everybody goes through it and everybody comes to terms with their share of grief and loss, differently. There is no right or wrong way to deal with the loss of a loved one. You can expect grieving to be rough.
It’s not just a matter of coping with loss it’s about coping with change. And that takes a lot of time. It’s different for every single person. Grief is a pretty difficult subject. How do you deal with the death of a loved one? How do you live your life in the face of a life changing event? We don’t have all the answers and honestly, you’re going to have to work through your pain in your own way, at your own pace. It’s not a walk in the park.
You need to remember that grief is a process and not a task. You might have heard of a popular theory: Stages of Grief, involving: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. You might be able to resonate with some or all the steps but grief is less like a staircase and more like a rollercoaster – there are peaks and dips, twists and turns and they all happen in unpredictable ways. There are good days and there are bad days: you might feel better for a while and then worse and it’s okay, it’s natural to have an uneven journey with your grief.
Don’t give yourself an emotional black out
Don’t be afraid of the pain. You shouldn’t try to stuff your sorrow away into a locked closet where you don’t have to deal with it. It’s just going to stay there till you open up the door again – whether that be 10 days later, 10 months later or even 10 years later. It may feel like the longer you suppress your feelings, emotions and thoughts, the lesser is the likelihood of them coming back and you actually experiencing them. That’s not the case.
Acknowledge that it exists
For you to work through your grief, you’re first going to have to acknowledge that it exists there are a lot of ways to do this. You might have to be alone for a bit – it’s not always the best idea to surround yourself with people, especially when you’re coming to terms with everything that has happened. It’s natural, in our desi atmosphere, you’re gonna get people flooding in through your door for the first week, at least. There will be Quran khwanis, khatams, the works. Calls will continue to pour in for at least a month and with each call or visit, you’ll be reminded of your loss, yet again. Politely excuse yourself and leave the room, if things become a little too overwhelming. Clear your head and then come back into the room to tend to your guest or call back.
You do not have to be alone in your grief. If your feelings are too overwhelming for you to sort out, go to someone else for help, whether that be a friend, a therapist or a professional. Sometimes, having an extra pair of ears available to hear you out really helps. Just the act of talking out loud about your feelings can be incredibly cathartic finding someone who can help you sort them into work through them is even better. Because Pakistan is, well, Pakistan, we have the tendency to prescribe ourselves with anti-depressants and sleeping pills, purchase them over-the-counter and then start to scarf them down. That can have serious implications on your health. If you don’t think you’re settling down and you might be in need of external help from medicine, seek a professional. Visit a psychiatrist and get them prescribed the right away by having a reliable diagnosis. Overdosage and abuse of narcotics can lead to your symptoms of grief, worsening – they give invitation to more depression and lead to psychosis. Visiting a psychiatrist is often thought of as a taboo in our typical desi society and that’s why so many people put it off because, “Loug kia kahein ge?” Most people don’t even recognise depression or any brain-related disorder as an illness. Unless it hurts physically, it’s not important to them. But it’s important for you to realise that they’re not the ones going through it – YOU are. And if you continue to suppress what started off as grief or mourning the loss of a loved one, it morphs into depression which eventually turns into schizophrenia which is much harder to deal with.
I can’t stress enough about how important it is to visit a professional who knows how to help people deal with this exact situation that you find yourself in.
If you’re not one for opening up to someone about your feelings, physically, write down your feelings in order to pull away from the sorrow. Take a journal and jot away. No one’s gonna read it if you don’t want them to. It can be absolutely, 100% private and still be the equivalent of you venting out your feelings.
Do things that make you happy
When you’re grieving, it’s sometimes difficult to hold on to sanity – who you are – after all, so much of your energy is focused on the mourning of your loved one. Which is fair but it’s easy to get sucked into a mind space where you can’t even remember your former self. You don’t have to feel guilty about taking the time to do the things that make you feel like yourself and give you joy. Go for a morning walk, pull out a yoga mat and YouTube a basic yoga routine.
Recognise the relationship between the mind and the body. When you’re experiencing grief, it’s really easy to forget the things that you usually do as a matter of routine like taking a shower, getting enough sleep, even eating – some people tend to overeat when they’re sad and others throw up and even the thought of food. Neglecting your physical health is only going to take a greater toll on your mental health, which is already taking a pretty significant hit.
Make an effort to take care of you, it’s what your loved one would have wanted.