Yesterday I had the day off work because it was the anniversary of the death of someone very close to me. This man was my rock, my supporter, my cheerleader, my friend, and in every way a father figure. My uncle Mike was one of the most important people in my life. After a day of crying, remembering and laughing I wanted to share what I have learnt about grief. I have had my fair share of it!
I have lost loved ones, pets, and my sight! Yes, I do class my sight loss as grief. I grieved it just the same as the ones I have lost. I still moan about it from time to time and sometimes it still doesn’t feel real.
Loss is like change, it is one thing that is inevitable in our existence. When I think of death, I think of the Lion King and the song ‘The circle of life’. I remember watching that as a child and thinking what the heck does that mean? As you live life and loss becomes a part of it, you realise the meaning of that song. Death is a part of life and you can’t have one without the other, like there are no breaks in a circle. I have come to learn that how we choose to look at death and loss will inevitably shape the way we cope and work through it.
It has taken a lifetime of self-reflection and work to come to this way of thinking. My 20 year old self would have said, ‘No Nina death is shit and that is that!’ I would still agree it is not the best thing to experience in this life but my 40 something year old see’s so much more. I want to share three things that have helped me through my grief in the hope it may help you if you ever have to face it. These are my own experiences and what may work for me may not work for you.
Having a good support foundation in your life gives you something that you can fall back onto and help you to stand up strong in dark moments. Whether that is a network of family, friends or groups of people who are experiencing the same thing as you. That kind of support is invaluable, someone you can talk to who knows exactly what you are going through and feeling.
I wouldn’t be where I am today and have been able to go through the last 12 months without my foundation. I didn’t need it in the forefront all the time, like the foundation of your house you don’t use it every day like your front door, but you know it is there holding the house up. Tapping into this resource when you need it will help you process grief.
When my uncle was going through cancer and when I lost my sight, I took the time to learn. I learnt everything I could because as they say knowledge is power. I want to feel in control of the situation and for me that is broadening my understanding. I think learning about the thing that scares us the most or presents the most challenges, will ultimately help us to overcome it.
Learning about emotions was another turning point for me. Understanding the meaning of our emotions and what they are and why we feel them I believe ultimately enables us to get through any situation.
- Compassion and Empathy
Having compassion for myself is the one thing I am most grateful for learning over the years. I was always so hard on myself, ‘Come on Nina you need to be strong don’t let people see you are weak. Push yourself, you don’t matter!’ This is what I used to tell myself but now after much therapy, work and self-love lessons I give myself compassion. It is ok to do that, if you need the time or space to rest then that is what you need. Understanding these things makes you stronger.
Empathy for others is also important because when you experience grief it can feel like you’re the only one in the world going through it. I have felt like that many times so I can assure you that you are not alone. Having empathy for others and even maybe supporting those through it can help you to heal too.
Going through grief is a personal and emotional thing and I would never discount someone else’s experience. We all deal with things differently but if we can learn from each other that can only be a good thing. I learn every day and take the time to reflect on those learnings and put what will serve me into place and remove those that won’t. Life, like loss, is one big lesson we are all taking part in.
Take care of your heart, soul and body.