To My Grieving Friends – You Don’t Have To Be Okay

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“To My Grieving Friends:

I am so sorry you know this life; I am so sorry these words will resonate with you. To live a life with grief is cruel and unforgiving and I am sorry you know this pain. But know I understand you are hurting, I know the pain is real and crippling, but please know it’s okay.

It’s okay to feel like your life is over, because it is. Your life is now split into two separate worlds: before and after your loss. The world you knew and loved before loss is over, you can’t bring it back no matter how hard you try. No amount of pleading, bargaining or screams will return it to normal. It is okay to acknowledge that and to feel that. You can mourn not only for your loved one, but for the life you deserved to have. It’s not selfish to feel you were entitled to a life without the agonizing pain of grief. No one should ever live a life that has known grief. The innocence you had before the atomic bomb of grief is gone, and left are the ashes of a life you had wanted to live.

It’s okay to be angry. Something was taken from you, whether it was a child, a spouse, a family member or a pet. Your love for them was real, so the loss of them is even more real. You had hopes and dreams for your life and having someone you love die was not part of that dream. Your life is now a nightmare, and it is okay to feel that. You didn’t ask for this life, you don’t deserve this and being angry that this is your life is okay.

You may be angry with the person you lost because they left you broken and alone and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you love them any less. It doesn’t mean you blame them for dying, it just means you are left here to face the greatest life challenge anyone can endure and, in some cases, you are forced to do it alone. Being angry doesn’t mean you hate the person you lost (but if you do, that’s okay too), it means you hate the idea of life without them.

You also have every right to be angry that this was done to them, that they were taken from you too soon. Whether it be a child before they were born or a 107-year-old adult, you may feel as if there wasn’t enough time with them and you can be angry for them. Angry at a life that was never allowed to truly begin, angry at a life cut way too short. Anger in any form in grief is a normal response. Don’t try to hide from your anger, know it’s okay and normal. And if you never feel anger, that’s okay too.

It’s okay to not want to move forward and it’s also okay to move forward. Grief has no time limit and no instruction manual. It may take some people a few weeks to grieve, it may take others months or years. But it is also okay if you are just stuck in your grief. The loss of a loved one is unfathomable. No matter how long it takes for you to process it, it is okay. Some may never and some may right away. Grief is not linear, so wherever you are in this hell hole of a process, it is okay.

It’s okay to not return phone calls, text messages or emails. Of course, you are appreciative to everyone reaching out and wanting to make sure you’re okay, but your life has been turned upside down. Everyday tasks that were once so easy may take up all of your energy. And truthfully, sometimes the only person you want to speak with is the one person you can’t. It’s hard to relate to friends and even family who haven’t experienced your personal grief (even if they are grieving themselves). Hearing about their day or even talking about how you are feeling can be draining, and that’s understandable. Your focus every day when living with grief is to just live, and if you can’t communicate with others that’s okay.

It’s okay to hate people telling you how ‘strong’ you are or even complimenting you in any way. You may not feel strong, you may not feel brave and hearing someone say that may just be a reminder of the life you’re forced to live – a life filled with being strong and brave after the most unimaginable loss. You were forced into this life; you didn’t choose to be strong and brave, you were never lucky enough to get that choice. People mean well and are always rooting for you, but sometimes the only thing you need is to not be complimented. Sometimes all you need to hear is, ‘This really does suck,’ or any acknowledgement of the pain you are feeling. Validation of your grief in any form can help more than words of encouragement. We know how we truly feel deep down and having someone really see our pain rather than trying to ‘talk us out of it’ may be more helpful than any encouraging words.

It’s okay to not recognize yourself anymore; part of your identity was stolen from you. The person you were before your loss died with your loved one. You are left with a broken, blank canvas no matter how old you are. Once you lose someone everything changes – mentally, physically, and emotionally – nothing stays the same. You must create a whole new existence, and your canvas may stay blank for a while or forever depending on where you are with your grief, but that’s okay. Having to restart a life living with loss is unimaginably hard, and your time is the only thing that can dictate when (and if) you ever begin again.

Be gentle with yourself; grief is literally being forced to live with half of your heart missing. That pain and that longing for it to be filled is excruciating and only you know this. You are not supposed to fix what’s broken in one night, one month, one year, or in some cases one lifetime. Everyone changes with age, maturity, life and love. It molds you into the person you were at the exact moment you experienced your loss. When you have someone you love die, grief creeps in and opens doors to so many emotions and feelings one should never have to know. Grief chips away at you, first with a sledgehammer when the initial loss occurs and then slowly, painfully and unforgivingly. Your entire identity gets broken down, you can’t recognize the person in the mirror because grief becomes your existence and changes you from the inside out.

Please know while your grief is your own and no one can ever relate to it, you are not alone. I don’t mean that in a way that will be helpful in your grieving process, I mean it in a ‘you’re not crazy’ way. You don’t have to be okay after grief, you may never be okay again, and the crazy thing is it’s completely okay. We are broken, we are bruised, and we are just sad. A life, a love and a sense of innocence was taken from us the day our loved one died. All our lives are puzzles put together by pieces that make us who we are. And when we lose a piece of our puzzle, there’s nothing that can make the puzzle complete again. The puzzle just exists, incomplete with a very noticeable hole. It’s okay to not want to fix your broken puzzle because you can never truly replace a puzzle piece. But please know, I hear you, I see you and it’s okay to grieve.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Katie Coelho of Southbury, CT. You can follow her journey on FacebookInstagram, her blog, and her podcast. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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