How does one deal with grief after losing a loved one? I lost my dad unexpectedly, when he was only 62, a few years ago; it was so heartbreaking for me. I was also going through a divorce, which made it that much worse for me. I had so many different emotions for quite a while. I was sad, angry, depressed, anxious, exhausted…but also happy for the wonderful memories I was able to spend with my dad.
After the funeral is over though, what’s next? How does one possibly cope with all the grief? We are left wondering and learning how to deal with our ‘new’ normal.
I recently saw a quote by Vicki Harrison that says, ‘Grief is like the ocean; it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.’ Which is exactly how I feel.
It has taken me many years, and at times I still feel like I’m trying to figure everything out, but I’ve really tried to find peace and happiness again. I know grief develops differently for everyone, so there isn’t one correct way to grieve, but here are just a few ways I have found that helped ease the pain of my grief.
Trust in God. At first, this was a hard one for me. I was recently going through a divorce and had two small children. I couldn’t help but wonder why I was going through all these trials. Isn’t our loving God supposed to be there for us? The answer is ‘yes.’ And He is. Even when we can’t see Him in that moment. Looking back now 5 years later, I can see that He was carrying me through my grief and heartache
Your feelings are normal. You are not going crazy. You aren’t losing it. You are grieving, and that is normal. Dr. Lichtenthal said, ‘Allow yourself to feel whatever it is that you feel. Anger, sadness, even relief. The emotions that accompany grief are all valid.’
Talk about your feelings. Whether to a therapist or just to friends and family, it is good to get your feelings out. I’ve loved being able to tell people about my dad—what he was like. It brings a smile to my face, which is what I need.
You are not alone. Other people have lost loved ones too. I’m sure most everyone has dealt with some type of grief, which has taught me to be more sensitive and mindful of others. It is one thing to hear someone say they know what you are going through; it is such a blessing, though, to meet someone who really does understand.
Permanent change. Grief has changed me in so many ways. I know I will never be the same again, and that’s okay. Some days I feel like I’m stronger than ever. Other days I feel like I’m drowning in my grief. Knowing that I’ll never be the same has just become a part of who I am now.
No timeline for grieving. I’ve had to learn that there is no specific timeline for grieving. We experience it in waves. Some days we are completely fine, and other days we are not okay. When it comes to grief, Susan Glaser once said, ‘Think in cycles, not lines. If you reach a point where you’re feeling good, only to feel bad again, it’s not a sign that you’ve relapsed or gotten worse. It’s how grief works, and it’s actually forward movement.’
Know that everything will be alright. My dad taught me to be strong. To be loving and happy. I try each day to keep his memory alive. I know he would want me to be happy and not be sad.
In the end, I don’t feel like we are ever going to conquer or get over grief. I’ve learned though that a good cry is sometimes all we need to get back on our feet and push through another day.
I have learned I am a strong person. I have been through so much, yet I choose to get up every day and face the world; I know every day isn’t going to be perfect, and that’s okay. Grief changes us; we are never the same. There is no getting over the loss of a loved one. Grief is a natural response to loving someone.
‘Grief is the last act of love we have to give to those we loved. Where there is deep grief, there was great love.’
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Leesa Peterson of Salt Lake City, Utah. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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