After losing several loved ones including her best friend and her grandmother in a short space of time, Jelena shares how a chance encounter with an old lady she met was a turning point in dealing with her grief and how she learned how to move on and enjoy life again.
There are so many people worldwide, dealing with some sort of grief at this very moment. So many of them feeling betrayed, broken, disappointed, angry and lost. I used to be one of them. It took me quite some time to learn how to deal with grief and emptiness.
When loss first occurs, you feel shocked. Unable to think, move or speak. You just stand there starring blankly with only these few words making a mess in your mind : “My loved one is no longer with me.” And that's it. A loved one who meant something to us, a family member, a colleague, a pet, no longer exists amongst the living. It can hit you like a truck. It can break you into thousand little pieces, or make you instantly numb.
I'm not going to write about the stages of grief and the steps to get over it. Every very well paid therapist will go through all of them in sessions. Don't get me wrong, if you're unable to function on a daily basis, you should get professional help, but. . . after the therapy is over, some people still have that feeling - like when you close a book and never read it again, never discuss it, and never find anyone else who also read it and understood it just like you.
Life goes on, “the circle of life” thing, you know, but you're still not over it, you have that odd feeling you'll never be the same.
A few years ago, I lost several people who were very close to me in a very short period of time. A friend suggested I see a therapist, so I went. She used to leave me in the office just to cry my heart out before every session. It took me two long years finally to understand the words she used to start every session: “ Take as much time as you need. What you're feeling is normal, but time heals everything. You just have to let it pass.”
Oh, I was so lost at that time. I couldn't talk about everything that bothered me. Outside I was healthy, but, on the inside. . . torn into little pieces, thinking over and over again about the last words I had spoken to those I had lost. Wondering whether I could have done things differently, whether we could have spent more time together. . .I just couldn't get out of that loop.
I also felt a sort of guilt, for still being alive while they were not. Read more about grief and guilt here.
That is how the idea first came to me. I started writing a kind of diary, beginning every day with a letter to a lost loved one, as if they were still here. I couldn't tell my therapist about it, it was too intimate. Maybe I was wrong, but I didn't want to admit it at the time.
I thought it helped me, but what I wasn't aware of was that I was running from myself, from the whole situation and from the real world. Basically, I kept drowning myself in my little secret pond of self-pity and sorrow. Read more about writing through your grief here.
One morning, I went for a walk with my dog, and there on the river bank I met an old women. She was throwing notebooks and letters into water, with a smile on her face. She looked at me and told me just three sentences that rocked my world -
“ I can feel your pain, it's all over your face. What you need is to focus on your life passing by your side, you can not be passive, but you have to grab your life by the horns and actively participate, or you'll be sorry. Don't let your grief control your life, when you have the power of healing yourself.”
I finally got it! Even more importantly, I'm more than willing to share that knowledge now, maybe I can help a lost soul to find comfort.
What I came to understand was - time doesn't heal anything. It's badly phrased. WE HEAL OURSELVES over a period of time. It is important how you continue to live your life without your loved ones, how you accept the fact that you have to go on.
No matter if the loss was sudden or expected, we need to find inner strength to accept that there is nothing we can do to change what happened. We need to take time for our feelings and thoughts to sort themselves out.
Then, you need to find the strength to forgive them for leaving you, and to forgive yourself for letting them go and letting them live on as a beautiful memory in your heart. That, I think, is the hardest part of the healing process.
The fact is, no one can help us if we're not interested in helping ourselves. It sure sounds like a line from a bad movie, but it is the truth.
Now, I'm aware all people are different. We all deal with our stuff differently every day. But we should never ever let bad and sad feelings control the present moment. There are so many beautiful things, people, events, emotions in this world, that it would be such a shame to miss everything because we're trapped behind a wall of grief that we have built around ourselves.
Do things that make you happy and feel alive. Don't feel guilty that your special someone can't do them anymore.
It also helps to think that you can always have that sweet memory of them in your heart, and a hope you'll eventually meet somewhere there when your time comes.
My point is, whenever you feel like you can't go on, think about this – perhaps your special someone is looking at you in this very moment, invisible, but there, shaking their head in disappointment:
“What has become of you, now I'm gone and there you are, behaving like a lost cause, not letting yourself feel better and blocking all the good that can happen”.
Think about that.
You know, if we believe we're not alone in the Universe, how can we not believe that our lives can turn out to be amazing despite all those losses we survived? There is no proof for either of those two things, but a life is given to us and we must make the best of it, no matter how hard it can be sometimes. Because we can. We just need to want it.
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