Coping with Grief and the sh*t people say

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.

black and white self portrait

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

 

coping with grief | Tyranny of Pink

 

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!

Jonelle |Tyranny of Pink

 

Comment

32 Comments

  • Govind Kale
    29th September 2018

    Thanks for this post….I needed this…..still coping with grief….

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  • Steph
    13th August 2015

    It’s so true – grief is a process that must be allowed to happen – how it needs to, when it needs to. Thank you for making that statement.

    • TyrannyofPink
      Steph
      15th August 2015

      Thanks Steph! It’s different for everyone but we can’t forget that it’s okay to go through the processes because that’s the first part of healing.

  • Rich Kraemer
    13th August 2015

    Have to say I agree with some of your points here. I can’t stand people using cliche’s like you said. It’s one of the reasons I HATE funerals, not just the loss, but having to have the same conversation a hundred times of. People apologizing, asking how you’re doing, then offering to help all as an empty gesture just to make themselves feel better.
    I much prefer to grieve in solitude. Going out into nature, in the middle of the woods where no one is within earshot, then just screaming and crying out all my frustrations and sorrows. When I come back, I don’t want everyone reminding me of the pain I still feel. I want them to help me move on and get back to my life.

    • TyrannyofPink
      Rich Kraemer
      13th August 2015

      Rich – you get me! That’s exactly how I feel about funerals and all the “love and support” that disappears before the words have even faded from the air. People mean well but then they carry on living their lives and forget that everything has changed for you…

      I’m also a big fan of grieving on my own (or now with my husband) and not having everyone make a big deal out of my loss but just respecting that I’m not going to be bright and cheerful all the time.

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  • sula1968
    1st June 2015

    This is a really valuable post, I never know what to say or how it will be taken. I’m so sorry that you have been through so much pain.

    • TyrannyofPink
      sula1968
      1st June 2015

      Thank you so much Sula. Honestly, it’s not something I would wish on anyone but I’m glad that my experience can help others in some small way.

      xox

  • survivingjonkersville
    1st June 2015

    Thank you so much for sharing this and enlightening me. I’m one of ‘those’ people who really get tongue tied and never know what to say. Too scared to say something stupid because I wouldn’t want anyone telling me that it’s gonna be ok even though I know it’s going to be sometime, just not that day or days of darkness.

    • TyrannyofPink
      survivingjonkersville
      1st June 2015

      Thank you for popping by and leaving this comment.

      It’s never easy knowing what to say and honestly, it’s probably not a one size fits all. I know for a lot of religious people – hearing that a loved one is with God is very helpful but for me, it was mostly people being genuine that I found most valuable. People are so scared to be around someone who is crying because they feel helpless but the best thing is to just give that person a space to “just be.”

      <3

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  • Heather
    18th May 2015

    I’m sorry for your loss but I’m glad you wrote this post.

    • TyrannyofPink
      Heather
      18th May 2015

      Thank you Heather. Me too!

  • Ella
    15th May 2015

    This post was absolutely beautiful and honest. grief is one of the hardest things to discuss, let alone share with the whole world. Really inspiring and moving

    Ella xx

    • TyrannyofPink
      Ella
      15th May 2015

      Thank you so much Ella.

      I find that the more I talk about it, the easier it is to accept it myself if that makes sense. Although, it’s never easy to tell the whole world about the lowest point in my entire life but hopefully it will help others cope a little. It helps knowing what others have been through I think.

      Thank you so much for your lovely words.

      xx

  • Supermama
    15th May 2015

    Lost my Dad very suddenly to cancer only a few years ago, I am not over it, I have not grieved and I often feel it’s because of the Sh*t others said to me. I include some of the people closest to me in that. Thank you for your honest account.

    • TyrannyofPink
      Supermama
      15th May 2015

      I’m sorry that you had to experience that, I know with illness people say things like “at least he’s not suffering” which feels like it should comfort but it can also be a punch in the stomach!!

      You should just let yourself. Let it out because otherwise, it affects you from within and who knows how that will end.

      I don’t think you ever get over it though!

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your experience.

      • Supermama
        TyrannyofPink
        15th May 2015

        Enjoy your blog.

        • TyrannyofPink
          Supermama
          15th May 2015

          Thank you so much supermama! I honestly really appreciate it 🙂 a good way to end the week! Happy Friday. X

  • Wenchy
    15th May 2015

    I too have been there. Numerous T-shirt.

    I agree. Bring the food, wash the dishes, clean the floor, iron clothes but leave the hurting person to grieve.

    I once had someone say after my best Friend, Tim died that he was sitting at the foot of Hess. No offence to Jesus but Tim wouldn’t have liked that very much!

    I would rather people say I have no words.

    • TyrannyofPink
      Wenchy
      15th May 2015

      I agree fully. It’s so much easier to hear “I’m sorry but I don’t know what to say” than generic feel good comments because often, they are offered up because the person needs to say something. People who understand don’t ever say things like that.

      Ahhh man, that is a not comforting thing at all to say to you. Yikes. I’ve also had my fair share of random comments. He’s in a better place takes the cup for me.

      Thanks for sharing your story!

      • Wenchy
        TyrannyofPink
        15th May 2015

        Pleasure. I use to answer that having Tim at my dinner table would be a better place thanks!

  • Andrea Nine
    15th May 2015

    Jonelle, I needed this today and this post was a gift. My husband and I are on our way to his mothers who is dying of ALS. She has decided to stop her feedings. Her passing will be soon and it has been horrible to watch her body whither away while her mind stays in tact. Your words were spot on and beautiful. Thank you my dear friend, thank you. Much love!!

    • TyrannyofPink
      Andrea Nine
      15th May 2015

      Oh Andrea! I’m so sorry to hear that. What an awful experience. Your husband is so lucky to have your support. Thinking of you in this awful time and sending you one giant hug!!! So much love. xox

  • Lizna
    15th May 2015

    Wow, really deep post but it’s a great read, I agree with so much you wrote, my dad died when I was 12 and he was a teacher at the school I went to, the teachers had told the rest of the school they aren’t allowed to talk to me and my brother about him, and us not know that, it felt like everyone had just forgotten about him over night. So for me talking and crying is what I needed then, still today it’s sometimes what I need, and the hugs! xx

    • TyrannyofPink
      Lizna
      15th May 2015

      Hi Lizna, Thank you so much for sharing your personal story. I’m sorry you had to experience that at such a young age. I struggled with the not talking thing at first, people always avoiding the subject and were surprised that I still had photos up of my father in my house but I didn’t want to forget. I also thought that if I don’t speak about him and look at his photos, it will be too painful in the future when I do. It’s not easy and honestly, I know people think they are doing what’s best but to stop everyone from talking to you and your brother about it must have been so isolating. <3 Talking is so helpful and and the memories I carry in my heart are all so wonderful and I love that my husband always lets me talk (or cry) till my heart is happy again. Xx

      • Lizna
        TyrannyofPink
        15th May 2015

        When things get a little emotional for me I will have a good cry, wipe my tears (and nose) on hubby’s shirt, have a cup of tea and then I can face the world again. Even tho it’s been 19 years I still miss Daddy Daughter moments a lot, I must admit tho that I have an amazing father in law that also gives a lot of comfort.

        I think keeping photos up is great, I don’t see anything wrong with that! I actually made a small album with only pictures of my dad and myself and I used to page through it a lot when I was younger. xx

        • TyrannyofPink
          Lizna
          15th May 2015

          I’m EXACTLY like that…haha tea fixes all my bad days!! After 9 years, I still miss my dad too and I know it’ll always be like that but having a wonderful husband is such a blessing. We’re lucky, not all men (or people) get the crying thing.

          I also made a scrap book of memories of my dad and it makes me sad to look through it but it’s one of my favourite things in the world.
          <3

  • Audrey Kelly
    15th May 2015

    i can really relate to this…i lost my son and only then did i understand what people go through in grief…and you right only time is the healer but all emotions you have to go through in order to heal but the scar will always be there…good read…i wish most people would read this,at the time all u need is a distraction to help cope through the process of grief…xo…and another one that grates me to the core…”I know what you going thru”,or “I can only imagine what you going Thru”…no one but me knows what i am going thru…period…

    • TyrannyofPink
      Audrey Kelly
      15th May 2015

      Hi Audrey, thank you so much for sharing your personal experience. You’re right, it is such a personal experience. I’m sure that people out there also appreciate some of the things that I think aren’t helpful because we all cope in different ways and at the end of the day, nothing anyone says is going to change the way you feel and take the pain away. It’s so important to remember that we are so blessed with the life we have and sometimes horrible things happen to us but there are also good things that happen. In time, we start to learn how to get through the days without everything feeling broken but at the drop of a hat, it all falls apart. I think the value lies in the good days and those are the days we live for. It’s also hard to live by this thought but the ones we have lost wouldn’t be happy knowing that we have been so ruined by them leaving us and we need to be positive in their memory. xox

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