This is not an article on the paranormal or psychic connections but on how we deal with life after the death of someone we love. Coping with grief and the loss of someone we love.
I started learning about grief early in my life.
At 13, my grandfather died (mums dad). Although a strong man and highly disciplined, he was a significant influence on my life and as a decorated world war two veteran, he was one of my heroes. I never went to his funeral. He did not believe it was a place for kids, and as such, none of us was allowed to attend.
At 14 years old, I lost my sister, who was hit by a car. She was 9 years old. Get an insight on how this was dealt with in my house and read my article Me, Myself and MY Mental Health.
This is one day I remember minute by minute from the moment I stepped off the school bus to be met by a friend of that family.
Before I carry on with this part of my life, I want to go over some of the “Advice” I received, and I am sure I was not the first or will be the last. In reading this, I am sure you will have heard the same.
“God works in mysterious ways.”
“She is in a better place.”
“She is at peace now.”
“At least she did not suffer.”
See the pattern? At that time and even now, lots of advice on how the deceased is but non on the help you now need. Why because I believe everyone offering the advice is hurting themselves. They, too, need help but have no idea how to ask for it or where to get it, so in place of saying nothing, they repeat the phrases they learned over the years.
Beyond the Advice
At the end of the day, the loss of someone we love hurts mentally and can cause psychosomatic illness, basically the physical symptoms of grief. Dealing with grief and the pain is real, the need for help is real. The phrases thrown at me (above) did nothing to help the pain. Only added extra anger to the myriad of emotions I was already dealing with.
If you are a person who is capable of asking for help, then please go and get it. If you’re like me and that is not an option, then you have no choice but to learn and wait.
What do I mean by learn and wait? The basics of it, you learn to live with the pain. The pain never goes away, I promise. However, I can also promise that if you wait long enough, the pain will keep reducing. This, however, is destructive, can seriously affect your life and takes years. Don’t wait! Ask for the help you need from uninvolved people. I am also not suggesting you sign up with an expensive shrink. Sometimes a friend or colleague will be available to listen and give you the time to talk. If your mental health starts to deteriorate fast. Then yes, go to the doctor and ask for the help you need. Or a group like the Samaritans don’t be afraid of calling the emergency services either.
In the years after my sisters’ death, I lost all my grandparents, several friends and colleagues, but in 2019 my mum finally succumbed to cancer. I had recently returned from working overseas to look after her and my father who had recently had a stroke but had also developed dementia. As I had only recently returned, I was still in the process of trying to get my partner into the UK, which was proving massively difficult.
I was alone in a country I had left 13 years before. No one to turn to and a partner who could not get to me. The old habits kicked in, the stiff upper lip, no showing of emotion in public and deal with this alone.
So getting the call in the early hours to collect my dad and take him to the hospital as mum had died I needed to be strong for us both. At the hospital I took dad in, family and friends had surrounded mum in her room. I kissed her goodbye and got out of that room as fast as I could. I can’t do this in front of people was the only thing going through my mind.
Looking at the way, I was brought up and the handed down attitudes of the silent generation, it’s no wonder the habits automatically kicked in. They are no substitute for talking about it with someone, but for the stubborn, it may help.
I took my father to see mum at the rest home. Dementia prevented him from taking a leading role in mums’ arrangements, so it fell on me as the eldest. It was an open casket. Dad needed to see her as did other family members.
It’s been over two years no, and the image I have of mum in the casket is drifting further and further into the back of my mind.
In the early days, one of my coping mechanisms was drinking until I fell asleep. Not a great idea and was probably a contributor to my liver issues which thankfully have now been cured.
Now, I have found that my grieving process is to suffer alone effectively, so my love of photography and the countryside provides a perfect escape.
I don’t want to be a wedding photographer, although it can be very lucrative because it involves dealing with people. So walking, landscape photography with just me and my partner is ideal, and if I do it right will provide a nice income stream.
The explosion of online shopping, with companies you can send your photographs to, which will create products for you to sell, also provides a potential income stream.
So, grab a sandwich and some water, get into the countryside, and walk. While you walk, remember your loved one. Remember the fun, healthy times and even talk to them. Do keep an eye out for other members of the public, though, while you are walking and talking. I made the mistake of chatting with mum, I did not see an old couple, but all they saw was a six-foot-four, big, bald, and tattooed bloke talking to himself. It was the fastest they had walked in years as they tried to get away from me.
One of the interesting things that has popped into my mind while typing this is my wiliness to help other people deal with their problems. Just like some of the greatest comedians who love to make us laugh are in themselves manic depressives. At the same time, people like me who like to help people in themselves, but will not ask for help, along with refusing it in other situations.
Although there is no magic pill for living with death, I hope this article and my way of dealing with things gives you either the push to ask for help or at least a way to deal with it alone. Healthy grieving is a must for you and those that love you.
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