I hope you’re okay? If you’re reading this, then I’m assuming that you’ve lost someone. For that, I’m truly sorry for your loss.
My Nana passed away at the end of June and life has been – I’ve sat here for five minutes thinking of a word for how life has been, but I’m coming up with nothing. Nothing can describe how life feels when you’re grieving, there are no words that do grief justice, and nothing can explain just how much it ricochets through every aspect of your life.
I haven’t written much lately, but I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts on grief and how I’ve been muddling my way through these emotions. I’ve been told that there is no wrong or right way to grieve; so, whether you cry, shout, scream, withdraw, fall apart or hold your chin high – you need to do grief your way.
If you’ve lost someone too, then I hope that you’re able to take something from this. I don’t know if it’ll help and I don’t know if it will help me ultimately, but it’s what I’ve been doing to try and find my feet in a life without my Nana.
Don’t try to search for normality
Whilst it’s important to recognise that routine and familiarity are important to helping you come to terms with your grief, it’s impossible to expect to return to normality. Since my Nana passed away, I’d been waiting for things to ‘return to normal’, but upon trying to get back into my routine, I found it almost impossible to do.
You see, once you’ve been touched by the hand of grief, things won’t ever be or feel ‘normal’ again. That’s not to say that your life will be abnormal, just that something has shifted within you. For me, this means that creative hobbies that I once loved have felt difficult and unfulfilling – this is the first time I’ve written in about three months, I haven’t been to my usual burlesque classes and I’ve only been back cooking in my kitchen properly over the past two weeks. I’ve also struggled with the idea of carrying on with my normal routine as if nothing has happened, going through the motions is what it feels like. But as they say – I suppose you’ve got to fake it until you make it.
As grief is such a confusing and all-consuming emotion, familiarity is your friend at a time like this. So instead of focusing on ‘getting back to normal’, I’m trying to implement my usual routine (even if this is bit by bit).
There aren’t stages of grief
Many articles and blogs about grief speak about the five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These are the supposed framework of grief that we move through in order to come to terms with losing someone we love – however I’ve found that these aren’t so much stages as a mixed bag of emotions that are present at all times.
Personally, I haven’t found that I’ve systematically moved from denial, to grief, to bargaining and so on – but I flit between all of these emotions. Sometimes I never solely rest on one, sometimes they’re balling around inside my stomach sickening me to the core, sometimes they’re absent and I feel numb, sometimes they’re all present and all-consuming.
I’ve tried to fight these emotions and I’ve tried to succumb to them but as time has passed I’ve realised that I can’t do anything to or with these feelings apart from let them exist inside me. Boxing them away in the back of my mind won’t help me come to terms with the loss of my Nana, neither will living with them at the forefront of my mind.
I think that seeking balance is the key. Making space for the variety of emotions to live within me alongside everything else is something that I’m trying to do – banishing them or hiding them won’t help me heal in the end.
How do you deal with your emotions?
Feelings of guilt
I think that feelings of guilt go hand in hand with feelings of loss. We always think that there is more that we could have done, more time that we should have spent, more connections we should have made. Unfortunately, once the person we love has passed on, these become missed opportunities that we kick ourselves for.
As is the case with a lot of people, I regret not asking my Nana questions. What was her bedroom like growing up? Who was her first celebrity crush? What was her first pet? Who was her best friend at school? The questions are assorted and endless and, unfortunately, they can’t be asked. Much like living with the feelings of grief, I think that guilt is something that we have to learn to live with when someone passes away.
I don’t know about you, but when my Nana passed away I felt (and still feel) completely and totally lost. It feels disrespectful to laugh and joke, it feels abnormal to sit in my family’s company without her present, it feels wrong to talk about her in the past tense… so much has been impacted by my Nana’s passing and every time I look into my family’s eyes, I can see that a light is missing.
I’m discovering that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. We’ve just got to take each day as it comes and remember that we’re stronger than we think. I think that the thing with grief is, is that we expect it to disappear over time, but this isn’t the case. The immediate pain of it becomes lesser, certainly, but I think that we need to learn how to make a home for grief to live inside us.
You and I, we’ll be okay.