The thing I think a lot of people don’t realize about coping the loss of someone (or something) close to you, is that there’s no right way to handle it. When you lose someone, it hurts. There’s not questioning or arguing with that. But what do you need to do for yourself to deal with it?
I briefly mentioned (before) that I lost my dad to cancer back in 2012. Naturally, it was rough for my entire family and everyone that knew him. It was something that we knew was going to happen eventually. The doctors warned us that he only had x amount of months left and that we should all prepare the best we could. We knew it was coming, but how prepared can you really be for something like that? The truth is, you really can’t be at all. You’re living every day thinking this one could be the very last time you ever see him, and you know to cherish the moments you have left. Sometimes you even forget that there will be a last moment. It would slip past me so often because he still wanted to get out and experience life the best he could.
I remember the last real conversation I had with him as I was leaving for school one morning. I said, “Bye dad, see you when I get home!” and that was it. The next thing I knew my mom was picking me up early from school so we could rush over to the hospital where my dad was being kept alive on oxygen so we could all say goodbye. It sounds so simple when explaining it now, but nothing about how I was feeling at the time was simple. I had an amazing relationship with my dad and it really crushed me. However, what really helped me through the situation was having family and friends around me to spend time with. I was able to reminisce on the times I had with my dad, the moments I wanted to remember, the moments I was proud of.
The point I want to make is that this was and is, my way of coping with a loss. I love to talk about my dad and tell stories because it makes me happy to remember him. I tell the story of his death because it was such a big part of my life, and I want to remember it. While it was heartbreaking, I don’t want my memory of that moment to go away.
My brother is different when it comes to talking about it. While he’ll participate in sharing memories about him and the things we all did together, going over the story of his death is something he chooses to avoid. Two and half years into my brother’s relationship with his girlfriend, he still hadn’t told her a single thing. The reason being that it made him sad and he simply didn’t want to talk about it. Fair enough! I told Cisco everything just three months after we started dating, because (while it obviously made me sad) it didn’t bother me as much – and I wanted him to know. I wanted him to understand why I have good days and bad days. Why one minute I’ll be making dinner and the next I’m crying because a song came on the reminded me of my dad. And the truth is, both are okay! Be open in a way that YOU want to! Everyone is different. Everyone will handle their losses in different ways.
To those that are grieving or have a family member or friend who is experiencing loss, be patient. Everyone will find what works best for them. Some say, “you’ll feel better if you talk about it.” But sometimes that’s just not true for people. I think it’s important to respect how each person copes, without telling them, “This worked for me, so it’ll work for you too.” Everyone will find peace at some point, and they will do it in a way they feel comfortable.