This post is heavy. Obviously. It’s about grief. It’s about coping with grief.
I just think when you spend so much time thinking about how you can be happy in the world, its important to address the challenges that make you unhappy too and let’s face it, grief is one of those things.
If there’s one thing I’m pretty experienced in, it’s loss. How much does that suck?
I’ve heard all the words of comfort that there are to hear and people are just doing the best that they can in the only way they know how. They say what they think they should say and they act all sheepish about it too because it’s tough. No one really knows the secret to healing and no one knows how to cope with the people who have lost love ones because there just isn’t a winning formula but some things suck more than others and some things, just don’t help at all.
What people say
Some of the things people say helps a lot and some things annoy the shit out of me. Here are a couple of examples.
“Be Strong” – I can honestly say that telling someone who has lost someone close to them to “be strong” is the most redundant of things to say. Instead, how about someone tells you to “be a mess” because right now, that’s what you need to be. Fall apart. Lie on the ground and scream. Cry. Cry a lot. Cry for days because that is how you grieve.
You don’t let go of loss by holding it all in.
People say things like “it’s all in Gods plan” and that doesn’t help much either. I’m not religious but even if I were, this wouldn’t help me. Neither does “he or she is in a better place now” – on account of the fact that even if there is a heaven or hell (which I don’t believe in any way), we have NO idea what that looks like and which one of those our loved one has ended up in. Yeah thanks but that doesn’t help me either.
How about “time heals all wounds”. Okay so technically this one is true but it’s another cliché that people use in a time when they just don’t know what to say. Cut them some slack, it’s true after all.
So here’s a list of things that helped me grieve – advice for the grieving and those who support them.
1. Alcohol. I’m not saying go become a full-blown alcoholic but the truth is, nothing numbs the pain like a bottle of wine. Take a bottle to your friend’s house and drink it with them. Do not drink alone. If you’re the friend of someone grieving then take them a bottle and drink it together. Do not let them drink alone.
2. Talking. Talk about it with a friend who will listen. One of the hardest thing to do when you lose a loved one is to find someone to talk it over with. Talking helps you cope. I found that when ever I started talking about it, people got edgy and awkward and used a bunch of clichés.
If you have to support someone going through grief, then just listen. Just be there. I know you don’t know how it feels, don’t have the words etc so don’t try. Just be there.
3. Crying. If you’re around someone who is grieving then when they’re talking.. they are probably going to cry. That’s okay. Just let them be sad. Being sad is how you cope with grief. Don’t say things like “don’t cry” or “it’s going to be alright” because it’s not. Okay it is but not right now, not for a while probably and that’s okay surely. It’s okay to not be okay for a while. It’s okay to grieve.
4. Hugs. I’m not a hugger really but sometimes.. you need a hug. If you sense that it’s a hug type situation, give a hug or get a hug from someone. Some people need them to help them cry.
5. Space. Let them have the time and the space to grieve. There is no need to grumble about a dirty house, unwashed hair or really any kind of unkempt behaviour that may or may not be going on. It’s okay to eat pizza for a month and not wash the dishes so if you visit someone who is grieving, then wash the damn dishes for them. Bring them pizza and probably other things like milk and bread too but don’t judge them for how long it takes to grieve. Grieving is okay.
6. Getting out. When I was going through the worst time of my life, I also lost a few friends. People stopped wanting to hang out with me and that’s okay but it did hurt to realise that many people who I considered friends couldn’t cope with it. Those who did, made sure I was distracted by having fun things to do so that slowly I started to heal. Hang out with those people. Those are the people worth hanging onto in life. You learn a lot about friendship in these moments.
7. Give it time. I know I said above that I hate when people tell you that time heals all wounds but while I don’t want to be told that.. it’s really true. After a while, the pain becomes easier to cope with. It NEVER goes away completely and you will always carry it in your heart. You feel sad at many times in the future. First birthday without them, your wedding day, Christmas etc but it will be easier to be sad for a little while and smile at their memory.
I think the worst thing I experienced during my time of loss, was when people would come to my house and then expect me to make them tea or coffee. Many people even expect to stay for dinner. That’s so not cool. Offer to make the person grieving tea and for fuck sake take them food! So not cool…!
Here’s a super personal story that really woke me the hell up.
When I lost my father, my world fell a part. I still got up every day and went to university because I knew that’s what he would want me to do. I was broken. I was a complete mess. I went to classes in the day time and went out partying at night. I didn’t care about the repercussions. I drove drunk. I drove drunk a lot. I realise the stupidity of my actions but at the time, I didn’t care. One night, while out drinking everything in sight I decided to ask the guy I liked if he would drive me home as I was clearly in no state of mind to do that myself. I found him talking to his ex and that threw me.
I decided in a panic I had to just get out of there so I ran. Yes I literally ran to my car and drove myself home. it was the dumbest thing I have EVER done. I am not proud. When I got to my parking space, I parked too near to the pole and although I knew that I had to decide between parking properly and throwing up all over myself. I parked my car practically on the pole. I heard the crunching noise and I just didn’t care. I got out and threw up all over the grass in front of my car. A moment I am certainly not proud of.
I stayed in bed for three days after that. I cried a lot. I left my car looking like that as a reminder of how much worse things could have been. It wasn’t a long distance I had driven, it was honestly 3kms but anything could have happened. That was the moment I realised that I needed to get my shit together and I did. Soon as the year ended, I packed my bags and went on a year-long adventure around the world on my own.
It gets easier eventually
If you’ve ever lost someone and you wonder how you will get through it just try to remember that although the pain will never go away completely, and you will always miss that person, it will get easier. You will learn how to cope and you will learn how to remember them without feeling like you can’t live without them.
In the meantime though, it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to be miserable and hysterical and burst into waves of tears with absolutely no notice. It’s okay to not have it together all the time. Being sad is normal. Grieving is what you do to get over losing someone. We don’t cry for them, we cry for ourselves. We cry because we will never see them again so be okay with your grief but remember that you’re still alive and you still need to carry on living.
It took years before I was okay but I got there eventually <3 and you will too!