You’ve heard the old wives’ tale (or Hollywood mantra) that deaths come in threes, right?
Well, two years ago, that was my life. In January 2015, I lost my paternal grandfather. In July, my great-grandmother, our beloved Granny, passed away in a local hospice after long-term complications from a stroke. In October, my 18-year-old little black-and-white joy of a cat passed away.
The loss of my cat was the third final straw, when I felt like I was losing control of my grief.
So, you could say I have some experience with the grieving process. No one chooses to endure grief of a loved one. It’s an inevitable part of life that all of us have dealt with and will continue to deal with. So, how do you cope after the loss of a loved one — or several loved ones at once?
Here are the seven stages of grief:
- Shock or Disbelief: “I can’t believe they died.”
- Denial: “I’ll wake up, and all three of them will still be here. This can’t be happening.”
- Anger: “Why did this happen? This is SO unfair, and they didn’t deserve this.”
- Bargaining: “I would rather something else happen than have them pass away.”
- Guilt: “I should have spent more time with them when they were alive…”
- Depression: “I don’t feel like getting out of bed because life isn’t the same without them here. It never will be the same, so why bother?”
- Acceptance and Hope: “I miss them, but I will continue to always think about them and do their memories and lessons justice through love and trying to emulate their behaviors.”
Theses stages may occur all at once or be staggered. You could go through depression before you bargain or get angry. It’s different for everyone. The main idea is that it does get better, even if you don’t think it will right now. Or you could think that grief won’t happen to you — that you’ll be fine. I’m happy to report that I am finally at the Acceptance and Hope stage.
So, how do you get there? Here are some ways to handle grief, when it matters the most, so you can reach your own level of Acceptance and Hope eventually:
- Don’t suppress your feelings. It’s OK to grieve. You’re shocked, and your loved one meant something to do. Go through the motions of all of your emotions. If you suppress the stages of grief, then you delay your own recovery.
- Try your best to do things you enjoy. This can be challenging when we’re dealing with the Depression stage, as well as others. Find solace in something you love to do. For me, I found that writing was the therapy I needed. I was able to write about the seven stages of grief as they occurred in my brain. Do something that keeps you level headed, and be sure to take some time for yourself. Try to eat, shower and maintain some type of normalcy. Get some sleep and know that this is a natural process most people go through.
- Seek help if you need it. Seek professional advice on how to handle your grief from in-person conversations with a mental health professional near you or online at BetterHelp.
No, you will never forget your loved one. I’m getting married in May, and I will pay tribute to the legacies of everyone I have lost in my life. I’ll do this through bouquet charms, a table of photographs and wearing my Granny’s monogram pin. I continue to pay homage to loved ones and even released my own heirloom cookbook last year to keep my Granny’s legacy alive. Find your own ways to keep your loved ones alive through your work, hobbies, projects, conversations, photographs, home decor and more.
Marie Miguel is an avid internet researcher and she likes to write about a lot of topics namely, social media marketing, healthcare and business. She has a college degree in Communication with Specialization in Integrated Marketing Communication. She has more than 10 years work experience in various fields namely, social media marketing, as well as, research for fast-moving consumer goods. Currently, she is working as a Marketing Associate in the fast growing industry of solar energy. In her free time, she writes content for different websites and blogs, so that she can share her knowledge of her field and of other topics that she is interested in. Marie also likes to travel and her adventures allow her to have a broader world view. Finally, she has four kids, who inspire her with her work and her writing.