This isn’t the happy kind of light hearted post that most people like to write about. It’s the kind that is real and heartbreaking but full of love and hope.
I hope that you can get something positive from it.
I have been a nurse for 22 years. I worked in hospice for seven of those years. I’ve been a part of hundreds of people’s journey to their last breath. It was hard but I learned a few things that might be helpful for someone.
Grieving can take a short while or never end. There is no timetable.
It’s going to hurt. It’s going to change you.
Grieving looks different for everyone. However you grieve or however long you grieve has nothing to do with amount of grief and love that you feel.
EDIT: I was reminded that people grieve for different reasons such as divorce, etc. So I wanted to say that a lot of this post can apply to that type of grief as well. Grief is grief.
Grieving isn’t linear. It can be messy and scary and overwhelming. There will be good days and bad days and it can feel like a rollercoaster of emotions from day to day. It can go from a good day to completely debilitating the next.
Grieving doesn’t always mean crying. It can cause tears and that’s OK. But sometimes it can mean remembering all the good times and funny moments too. Waking up smiling remembering a silly time can be a part of grieving. Waking up and reliving the trauma again like it was happening the first time is also grief.
Grieving may feel lonely. Long after the visitors have gone and most people stop talking about your loved one, you could still be in the heart of grieving. It can feel like others don’t understand. You’ll need to find your people. Find a support group or go to a counselor. Maybe there’s one family member who was also close to your loved one that can understand. You aren’t alone and shouldn’t feel lonely. That only exacerbates grief. You’ll need to talk about what you’re going through. It will help.
Whatever grieving is for you is OK. Well-meaning people may not talk about your loved one for fear of making you sad. If you want to talk about your loved one than do so. It will help others know that it’s OK for them to talk about them too.
Well-meaning people may let you know in their own way that enough time has passed and you should move on. Those are not your people. Simply thank them for their concern and let them know you are going through this process and don’t know how long it will take but it’s not something you can turn off like a switch. If they want to be there for you that’s fine and if not that’s OK too.
No one can say with certainty what happens after death but if you find comfort in your faith or believing in angels and receiving signs then use that to your advantage. Look for the signs. Talk to your loved one. Feel their presence. Let them comfort you.
In my experience, from what I’ve witnessed in hospice many times is that there is a soul. There is something else after this life. If I ever had any doubts before hospice I definitely no longer do.
Whatever you believe is OK.
I suggest to help you through it you consider the following:
Take time off from work when needed.
Keep up with your medications.
Eat something nutritious.
Drink enough water, even if you have to force yourself. Dehydration will make you feel much worse.
Try to get dressed or at least change into fresh pajamas.
A shower or bath. Brush your teeth. Comb your hair.
Connect with someone.
Honor your loved one. I’ve always liked the idea of lighting a candle while sending a little prayer (or memory or whatever feels right to you).
Find more posts like this and other support online by google searching “how to cope with grief”
Hot tea, chicken soup, comfort foods
Read spiritual material. If you’re not spiritual read a novel.
Write a goodbye letter or any kind of letter to your loved one who is no longer with you in physical form.
Get outside. A short walk in fresh air is refreshing and gets you out of your head.
Play with your pet if you have one.
Keep checking in with yourself and ask yourself what you need, then do that thing.
Allow yourself to feel whatever you need to feel.
Stretch. Get a massage if possible.
Try meditating. It can do wonders for you.
Let go of regrets, if you have any. Whatever you said was ok. Whatever you did was ok. You loved the best way you could. All is well and forgiven.
Allow your grief to turn into growth.
Look up “grief” on Instagram and follow some of those accounts for more tips.
Remember that you’re not alone. You are loved. You will get through this. Have patience. Just take one breath after another, one moment at a time.
Wishing you all the best. My heart is with you. I am so sorry for your loss.