One of the faithful readers of this newsletter has had a couple of painful losses in his life recently. And another one of my close friends experienced a painful breakup. So I want to take a moment to talk about loss. You can experience a loss as in an end of a relationship or a death. Loss can be extremely painful, especially when so many bad things hit simultaneously. It takes work to get through. The best thing to do is to get through each day, one at a time. Don’t try to deal with the loss(es) all at once.
I have lost friends and family members and had tremendously difficult splits from friends and girlfriends. Even if we could get used to loss – I don’t want to. Although losing someone you love tears a hole in your heart, I don’t want it not to matter. I don’t want it to be something that just passes with time.
The scars from a loss are testimonies to the love and the relationship. The deeper the scar, the deeper the connection and love. Scars are a testament to life with scar tissue stronger than the original. Scars are a testament to life and the ability to love and live deeply. The scars also prove the ability to heal and continue to love.
Now, grief can wreck you and make you feel like you’re drowning in the remnants. These pieces of wreckage remind you of everything that was, and you may hang onto pieces. Memories, mementos, and cherished items – or even another person – are all pulled close.
Grief is challenging as it comes in waves. First are the crushing and crashing waves that come right after the other. You can’t seem to catch your breath, and you feel like all you can do is float. But weeks, perhaps months later, the waves are still crushing and crashing but further apart. That time in between allows for breathing and functioning. But situations can still trigger that grief – memories, moments, sights, smells, sound – and the wave comes crashing again. But, you will find that in between, there is life.
During this time, going to a park and writing down your thoughts and emotions in a journal can make you feel much better. I relieve the heaviness of my thoughts and put them onto paper. If you don’t feel like writing about your thoughts, write a poem, write about your day, or even draw pictures. And the park is relaxing and calming, watching all the people and taking in the surroundings. The point is, don’t bottle up your feelings.
Also, find something that helps you to relax, such as meditation, reading, or exercising. Try to find a way to keep yourself at peace. Alcohol and drugs aren’t the answer – they’ll only numb the pain briefly, and they’re destructive. Cry when you need to, go on a long drive & scream it out, and let yourself feel.
Therapists and grief counselors can help process the loss and feelings of denial. They can provide coping tools and the ability to process and understand emotions. When a loss happens, sometimes weird feelings, restlessness, irrational guilt, feelings of failure, and more can pop up. This is normal, and a therapist or counselor can help you move on. Keep in mind that it’s not an immediate fix, however.
As time passes, the waves of grief will become smaller and further apart. Holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries may be triggers, but you can prepare. The wave will hit you, but you will come out on the other side, still hanging onto some pieces of the wreckage. The waves never stop coming, but you learn to survive them.
You will see their faces and remember their smile and smell. You will remember memories that you had all but forgotten. Embrace the beauty of these moments and memories, but also embrace the situation. Not every day will be bad, and not every day will be good – but allow yourself to see the sunshine — both real and figuratively.
One of the most complex parts of loss is that your life doesn’t end. You don’t stop being in the world; no one can tell by looking at you that you have screaming pain and suffering inside. Keep going, make new habits and connections, cry and talk, and be mad if you feel it. Breathe, shower, get dressed, and go through your day. Go on and lead a life just like before the loss – as this loss is part of the inescapability of life. Things change.
Nothing may be able to stop your loss or pain. The sun still rises, and the world still turns. After time, you will be more used to the pain and adjust to the empty space. Sometimes grief still will surprise you, though – like you suddenly found a drop off under the waves at the beach. You’re splashed over your head, and your breath is knocked out. But you’ll get your footing, come up for air, and breathe again.
Whenever something bad happens, just take a deep breath and think, “What do I do next?” Don’t worry about all the things that need to be done. So, what is step one? Focus on one thing and work towards it to help you get through moment by moment, even if that first step is to make dinner.
At the end of the day, there’s no correct way to cope with loss, and everyone deals with losses differently. The crucial point is to allow yourself to feel how you want. So many men try to push the pain away or put on a strong front for others. This will only make the healing process longer (not that it ever ends) and leaves a feeling of hostility and frustration.
Don’t shy away from the memories of someone you lost, which is hard at first because thinking of them can make you feel raw and exposed. However, over time, happy memories are comforting. Focus on the beautiful memories rather than the sad ones. Again, no correct answer exists, but let yourself grieve however your mind and body want to.
Honestly, you never truly get over it. You keep moving forward, one step at a time…one day at a time. The pang of loss will remain, but it will fade and turn into something else that includes an appreciation of your loved one and positive thoughts about your time with them. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots and lots of love.