Nothing in this world can be as heartbreaking as realising that you could never see your loved one ever again. Sadness does not even encapsulate the amalgamation of emotions that you feel in your chest. Everything will be a blur, from being notified of their passing, to attending their funeral service until the moment you return home.
The registration of their passing will not sink in, and you will catch glimpses of their presence and certain moments will trigger the memories. You will break down all over again and this cycle will continue, but have faith that it will get better each time.
Whilst your emotions may not have a 180-turn immediately, or ever, here are a few approaches that can be your first few steps to emotional recovery.
Step 1: Allow yourself to feel
During the funeral procession, with immense sadness in the air, you may not even have the time to even register your overwhelming emotions. Sometimes, it’s easier to dismiss them and push them deep within your gut so that you don’t have to feel the pain. This also serves as a denial of the fact that your loved one is already gone.
It is important to give yourself space to feel what you need to feel. Your feelings are valid; the extreme pain after a loss is normal. Your body is allowing you to express and navigate through the loss with these emotions. It takes time but you’d have to acknowledge that you are feeling these myriads of emotions, no matter how painful they can be. Pushing them aside is not only extending your grieving process, but also the pain. Otherwise, you might risk subconsciously expressing this pain through other unhealthy ways, and hamper your grieving process.
Step 2: Find a friend
When you’re overcome with negative feelings, the last thing you might want to do is to be in the company of others. Dwelling in your sorrows in solitude is tempting and sounds infinitely better than trying to muster the emotional energy of having to answer concerns and pretending that everything is fine.
However, this is the reason why finding a friend is important. And not just any friend either, but one who can empathise and support you with your emotional needs and give a helping hand. If your loved one is a family member, it is highly likely that your family is also grieving. It is vital that you support each other, but people grief in different ways. If everybody in the same household is bereaved, chances are, nobody can spare any energy to help others when they’re having a hard time supporting themselves.
If a friend has passed and you find yourself dealing with a loss, find a friend in your family members. Losing your loved one will leave a big gap in your life, you have to find a supportive group of people who can fill that empty space, at least for a while. If you wish to talk and dissect your feelings and thoughts in order to recover, perhaps seeing a therapist is also a viable option.
Step 3: Completing the 5 grieving stages
Allow yourself the chance to complete the grieving stages. Nobody can fault you when you have yet to overcome the loss weeks after the funeral wake. Many take months, even years, to heal the gap.
According to licensed therapists, there are a total of 5 stages in the grieving process: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. These stages don’t necessarily have to be in order but understand what constitutes each stage. You will then be able to recognise which of the grieving stage you’re currently at and hopefully, figure out ways to handle it. Take things slow and work through each stage with patience and faith.
Step 4: Moving forward
The closer the bond you had with the deceased, the harder the recovery might be. It may even feel as if time has stopped.
Life will never be the same but it will get better. You will find joy again when you do some of your favourite past times. There will come a time when you can look back at the memories of the deceased fondly, even if there is a dull ache in your chest. Embrace life again and strive to contentment.
The steps above are in nowhere a guaranteed solution for overcoming the death of someone dear. Do find time after the funeral service to emotionally navigate whilst actively keeping yourself busy. If it gets too much, it is acceptable to seek professional help.