The emerging blogger series is aimed at community building by giving mental health bloggers who are early in their blogging evolution the opportunity to have their work seen by a wider audience. It’s also a way to introduce readers to some newer members of our community.
This post is by Brenda of BNHealthMatters.
What I Have Learnt About Grief
I don’t know when you first dealt with the topic of death but mine must have been during my pre-teen years when a friend passed away in a drowning accident. Her family had gone for an outing and upon their return, they informed all the neighbors about the tragedy. I can’t really describe my emotions but something was definitely amiss. Obviously, due to cultural norms, the concept of death was not explained to us and I remember not understanding what was going on. I was too young to comprehend the whole issue and for so many months living with an expectation that my friend would come back home.
Grief is a very personal journey and as Sandberg & Grant (2017) put it “.. a demanding companion”, it feels like you are always dragging grief with you everywhere you go. I have had my personal experiences with loss and grief and when it hits close to home then it hits to the core of one’s soul. What have I learned over the years?
The pain and losses
- Not to be apologetic about feeling sad or feeling emotional about the what if’s. It is okay to mourn, to feel empty, or even have mixed emotions. It is okay not to be okay.
- I think the greatest challenge for me was to learn to take the time to grieve and not to be apologetic for not attending to my normal. There is time for everything and that includes taking time to go through that moment of anguish. You are only human.
- Grief comes with some loss of identity. For example, if you were a parent to someone you lose that identity of being a parent, if you lost a parent you are no longer someone’s child. You have to learn to live with your new identity.
- That losing a loved one comes with other secondary losses/connections such as losing some family friends, acquaintances, or other supports. And that by itself is another life adjustment.
The strength of a support system
- Open up to life opportunities or other people- somebody must have been placed by the universe to meet a certain need that was initially played by the departed. It might not be the same package that you were accustomed to but the universe has sent this person your way, embrace it if you can.
- No man is an island so if need be, seek support from a loved one, clergy, or mental health professional. A person who is equipped to support you as you grieve.
- Connect with those who have gone through the same kind of loss, sometimes it is easier to hear other people’s stories and how they have overcome the highs and lows. You will need to draw strength from others.
Processing your own grief
- Find non-disruptive ways to process grief. I found that talking about my loss makes it less painful and normalizes the process.
- Find ways that bring healing to you. Some grief counselors encourage journaling as a way to express pain. Writing this blog has been very cathartic for me.
- You will go through emotional roller coasters that have unexpected twists and turns. Learn some coping skills to manage those “rollercoasters”
- You have to try to create a new way of doing things e.g. if you had regular Saturday night outings with your loved one, you will need to create a new way of celebrating those nights.
Having a heart of full of gratitude
- It’s okay to have good memories and laugh about what was. Laughter is good for the soul.
- I have learned to have a heart full of gratitude for moments shared with the loved one. There are some beautiful memories that cannot be erased in one’s mind.
To sum it up I have learned that this “demanding companion” is part of my life and every day comes with new lessons and feelings.
Death is something beyond our control. What we have control over is how we learn to respond to it.
In loving memory of my loving Parents Samuel and Priscilla, I always think of you. I miss your presence; your absence is quite visible. I appreciated the sacrifice and love, the ups and downs you had for the family. I still miss you and have many questions. If only life would give us another chance. I tend to question if your work was completely done but our heavenly father knows why he had to pluck you from this earth. I love and miss you dearly but more than anything I am always grateful for the chance life accorded us. You were here, walked with us, fed us, clothed us, taught us the ways of life, took us to the drive-in cinema in our younger days, and, ohhhh how can I forget the trips to JKIA airport to look at the planes. I have a lot of precious memories and for that, I will always be grateful. Love you and miss you dearly.
Sandberg S & Grant A 2017. Option B: Facing Adversity, building resilience, and finding joy. Alfred A Knopf. https://optionb.org/book
Brenda loves to talk about how real-life issues intersect with one’s health. Her experiences as a woman of color, a mental health professional, and as a recipient of health services have brought her very unique and interesting life experiences. My goal is to normalize very awkward and stigmatized topics. During my free time, I like to read books, dance, color, and googling random things. One fun fact about me, I still prefer using old-fashioned road maps for long-distance driving.
Thanks so much Brenda for participating!
You can find a listing of all of the series posts in the community features directory.
Do you want to be the next emerging blogger?
- you have a personal (rather than business-oriented) blog that’s focused primarily on mental health/illness
- you’re a new(ish) blogger, with WordPress following <100 preferred
Interested? If you fit the criteria above:
- email me at mentalhealthathome (at) gmail (dot) com
- let me know the topic you’d like to write about and include your blog name/URL