Nothing can really prepare us for losing someone we love. The shock, pain, grief, and confusion of it all are all foreign concepts until they show up in our lives. And it can be extremely hard to navigate all of these emotions. But grieving and healing, coupled with resolve, positivity, and strength, can be the light that guides us through these dark times.
I find myself now meeting this very challange. It’s a very different phase in my life. A phase that I didn’t expect, plan, or think that I would be in any time soon.
My dad passed away two weeks ago. It is still hard to believe, hard to type, and hard to comprehend that this actually happened. He was so young. He was about to celebrate his 70th birthday this week. He was also so very full of life. His days were filled with athletics, activities, friends and fun. Nothing made him happier that than his family, his friends, and doing the things he loved to do.
He suffered a heart attack and passed away in the early hours of Sunday, February 10th. When I received the call from my mom early that Sunday morning, I couldn’t process the words she was saying. I was in my car in chilly Virgina, heading to our office to work. “Your dad is gone” my mom told me. My heart felt like it split down the middle and I had no idea how I was going to pick the pieces back up.
The hours that followed that call were the most intense hours I’ve experienced in my life. It was filled with questions, disbelief, and the incomprehensible pain of realizing I wouldn’t be able to see or talk to my dad again.
After arriving in Florida that Sunday night, I realized that my life had changed forever. I also realized the challange that lay ahead. My mom, sister, and I would have to grasp the idea that we lost our beloved and somehow find a new normal in our lives.
I’m still in Florida and will be here for the next month as I spend time with my mom. I know that as we continue to grieve and heal, there will be a thousand lessons to learn.
If you are going through something similar, I’m sending you so much love and lots of hugs. (This article on the 5 stages of grief may help to shine a light on some of the things you may be feeling.) It will be hard, but you can heal, move forward and thrive in life while still celebrating your loved one.
Here are a few things I have learned over the past two weeks that have helped me carry on.
How to Start Healing After Losing a Loved One
- Let yourself feel whatever it is that you are feeling. Don’t try to cover it up, numb it, or hide the pain. This is grieving and it is important in the healing process.
- Give yourself the time and space that you need. Everyone processes grief differently. In the past year, I’ve noticed that not looking at my phone in the morning gave me a sense of peace, focus and happiness. I followed suit in the past two weeks after losing my dad. I turned of my phone. I didn’t look at emails, alerts, or messages when I didn’t feel strong enough. I allowed myself to completely focus on whatever I was doing in the moment- whether that was being with loved ones, talking about my dad, or just sitting with my thoughts and resting. We all have commitments and responsibilities. But if you can, allow yourself to be alone, or with loved ones, without any distractions from your phone. The peace will help guide your through this tough time.
- Be open to receiving love and support from others. One thing I am constantly in awe of is the compassion and kindness of others. My dad was loved and the amount of support that my mom, sister, and I have received in the past few weeks is incredible. These gifts, like the kindness of others, are the things that help us through the really tough times. The world is full of incredibly good people. If you let them, the kindness of others can provide you with enough love and support to lift you out of your darkest times.
- Provide support, grace, and patience for those who are suffering around you. Because each person processes pain differently, other’s emotions can be varied and unpredictable. At times they might be angry, at times they might seem insensitive, and at times they might seem a bit too removed from the pain. But that is only because they, just like you, are trying to grasp, process, and heal the pain that they are feeling.
- Find ways to talk to the loved one you’ve lost. No matter what your belief system, communicating with the person we’ve lost allows us to start processing what has happened and work through our feelings and emotions. It also gives us an opportunity to tell our loved ones the things we might not have gotten the chance to tell them. Yes, I have felt crazy at times for doing this. I started talking to my dad on runs and now I find myself talking to him every time I go outside for a walk or run.
- Figure out ways to make your loved one proud. How can you carry on their legacy? One harsh realization I had after my dad passed was that I had so much left to do, see, and accomplish to make my dad proud. My first job is to accept and believe that he was already proud. My second is to carry on his legacy in all that I do. He marched to the beat of his own drum, he was an eternal kid at heart, and he was so incredibly kind, supportive, and loving. He would help anyone and everyone, he didn’t sweat the small stuff, and just wanted to be happy. I will be sure to carry and honor his values and philosophies with me on my journey in life.
I love you dad and I promise to carry on your legacy and make you proud. ❤️
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