Coping With Death Of A Loved One: 6 Exciting Ways From One Real Woman’s Experience.
There is definitely nothing exciting about coping with death of a loved one, but knowing what to do can make the experience more bearable.
Death comes with an amalgam of ugly situations, such as the blame game that usually shutters the bereaved. Through various experiences I have come to believe that:
Being condemned is actually more piercing than the loss of a loved one. This is especially true if it comes from those you trust and love.
And this raises critical questions to ponder upon—Why does society feel the urge to judge others, especially women so harshly for the things, they did, or they did not do even in horrible situations such as loss of a loved one? How is a person supposed to know how to deal with death of a loved one: death of a baby, spouse, friend, parent, or even a pet under such a scathing environment?
I am posing these questions to you as well as to myself. Why? Because I am as guilty as charged. I am human, and we humans like passing judgments and finding where to place blame. (Maybe you are guilty too, but this is not the purpose of this article). While I might be guilty, I have also been a victim and I therefore know firsthand and how it is just plain painful when the world becomes cruel enough to take you back while you are coping with death- which is a traumatizing event in itself.
Feelings That Make Getting Over Death Very Difficult For Most Women
Whether you have experienced death on a personal level or not, I am sure that you understand that death is one terrible animal. It shakes all of us and brings immeasurable pain. Coping with death can be nerve- wracking (for lack of a better word) especially if you have a strong connection with the deceased. It brings all of us the – poor, rich, powerful, educated name it, to our knees and we feel helpless.
Although everyone’s experiences are different, there are some generalizations across the spectrum that make coping with death of loved ones unbearable for most women. Real women understand that they have to deal with these feelings in order to allow themselves to heal and move on.
- Some feel guilty and judge themselves, even for the things they did not have control over.
- Others feel a sense of shame, as if they caused the death.
- Some live in fear. They are afraid to face the public and live their normal lives.
- Others become angry at death, themselves, God or anything they can think about.
- Some do feel that they cannot move on without their loved one, for various reasons.
- Some women simply do not know what to do or what to feel. They become numb
6 Ways of Coping With Death in A Healthy Way
Unfortunately, although there are no set guidelines on how to behave after the demise of a loved one, there are some tacit expectations and failure to follow expected grieving trends in different cultural contexts brings more ridicule. And that is where everybody gets it wrong.
There are as many healthy ways to cope with death as there are deaths out there. In other words, there is no wrong or right way of coping with death as long as it is not harmful to your health in a literal sense
The first step to healing is being honest and open about it to yourself- what you can do and what you can’t do. Of course, there is the initial stage of denial, but real women do not allow that to take too long. And too long here is relative. The following tangible steps can help you while coping with death of a loved one.
1. Find comfort in your friends and the community:
Allow those people to carry the pain with you. If there is anything that overwhelmed me, it was the love we received. People literary went above and beyond. At times, I did not know what I needed to do but these people were my anchors. Let go. I can never put the price tag on the social support from friends & family. Coping with death could have been much more difficult if I had to deal with this alone. This was critically important since my husband was away for studies. I am forever indebted to these amazing creatures of God.
2. Trust In a Higher Power:
Being a Christian (although I questioned God's love and existence during this period), I knew that He always had perfect plans for us and we are all destined to die, and that it is only a matter of time. I saw God like a farmer, who goes to his garden and picks the most beautiful flower for his centerpiece. If you do not believe in God, just know there is a higher power, beyond us, a power that knows us, more than ourselves. Surrendering things you have no control over to this supernatural being is an awesome way of coping with death.
3. Forgive Yourself and Others:
Sooner, rather than latter, you have to find a way to forgive, not so much for those who said hurtful things but more so for yourself. Coping with death through forgiveness is truly liberating. Although I was surrounded with amazing people, this came as a double-edged sword. I made a number of enemies (although I have since forgiven them all). After my daughter's death, heart-breaking comments—what I should have done, what I didn't do and so on all pierced through my heart. I even acted irrationally on some instances. Eventually though, I came to the understanding that most of them were well meaning. And I forgave them. And of course, you have to find a way to forgive yourself if you are holding grudge against yourself.
4. Sieve Through The Given Advice:
Yes, you will receive a lot of advice around coping with death, some of it unsolicited for. The key here is to avoid making major decisions , as much as possible when you are still emotional. Following the passing of my daughter, God worked through one lady. She gathered courage, and told me that if I possible, it would be good to try and have a baby immediately. Although many people have different views about this, it worked for us. This had to do more with my personality and my general approach to life. Although this did not take the pain away, it gave me something to look forward to, and I have never regretted that decision.
5. Make Changes In Your Life Style, whether Minor or major:
Get something new to look forward to: a new hobby, a gateway, a new skill, a more challenging project at work, reading a new book, keeping a journal, will do you good. Do what you feel you need to do. Most people I know have found healing in trying out something new, especially if it is in memory of their loved ones. But most importantly, try to avoid situations that bring fresh memories. For instance, if you lost a child, it might be painful to constantly be in touch with kids of the same age.
6. Get Professional Help:
Real women know from deep within when they are not handling a situation well. Generally too much or too little of anything is always bad- you know how your life style was before, and you know the time you have given yourself to recover. If you feel something is not right, then it is NOT. Seek help. Although some professionals feel castrated when it comes to death, finding a good one will help you navigate your options.
My Final Thoughts About Coping With Death Of A Loved One
One fact to take note is that life will never be the same regardless of the myth that “One day you will look back on this day and smile”. As I write this post, it is about 10 years since I lost my daughter, and it is one mystery I have failed to resolve.
Once in a while, I envision her taking different milestones- how beautiful she would be, how we would do girly things together -remember I now have boys. I sometimes shade a tear on those bad days. But these are brief moments. Overall, I rejoice in her life. I hold those dear memories to my heart. I know that I am coping with her death in a healthy way. I do not think that this is denial.
Yes, it gets better, if you give yourself a chance. You eventually find that place where you feel comfortable with your emotions.
Finally, I must underscore that death has no power over real women! I know, as a child, I used to laugh at such an assertion. How can people, in their right mind be in denial, when the physical evidence- a lifeless body was there, right in our midst? Wasn’t this silliness of the highest order? Now, I do understand.
Real women like you and me have power over death. We cannot just fall into depression and give up on ourselves. We do what needs to be done. We seek ways of coping with death in healthy ways. We know that death has happened and we cannot change it. However, we decide not to live in its shadows. That is what we call victory over death. You too can have this Victory, starting Today!
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