I am referring to the loss of a loved one. No matter the situation, death is traumatic. Whether your loved one’s health was already failing or they were completely healthy and the passing was out of the blue, the hurt is pretty much the same. But how do you even begin to heal? How do we turn this unbearable grief into some sort of nostalgia?
There is no magic pill that will take the hurt away. No trick or universal/blanket statement that will make you feel better. And even though I have found several ways to move from Grief town to Nostalgia-ville, it is ultimately up to YOU! Only you will be able to find a way to live your life without your loved one. I believe it is a personal journey, however, by sharing my technique, maybe someone will find the right path towards their journey.
Where do I start?
Someone once told me “You bring about what you think about”. It took me quite a while to fully grasp the magnitude of that phrase and what it was worth to me. She used the phrase for business purposes but I have come to realize, it fits most (if not all) situations in my life. Including this one. I use this phrase to start my healing process! Let me show you how:
What you may “think about” after a loss:
- The day they passed
- How they passed
- That heartwrenching phone call
- The last conversation you had with them (and the fact that you had no idea it would be your last)
- The pain you feel right now
- The things you never said to them…etc
What you will now “bring about” based on your “think about” list:
- Fear of moving on without them
The way I see it if we adjust the “What you think about” box, the “What you bring about” box would be adjusted as well. I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t think/feel any of the things listed above. Most of those thoughts/feelings just happen naturally and without our permission. We don’t fall into this cycle on purpose. But what if we could add more positive things to the “think about” list? Now that we can do on purpose. We can choose to purposefully ADD our memories, the good times, things your loved one enjoyed, their favorite food, favorite hobby…etc. The more good things/thoughts you add to the “think” box the better. Before you know it, the positive ones will outnumber the heartbreaking ones which will cause the exact same effect on the “bring about” box.
How I add “the good stuff” to my “think” box?
- Celebrate their birthdays! In a small way, a big way or any kind of way in between…This one is most important to me.
- Do not even acknowledge the day they passed! Distract yourself that day, week or even that whole month if that’s what it takes.
It’s quite simple, really. I figure, if something were to happen to me and I left this earth I would want my family/friends to remember me, no-one wants to be forgotten. I would want to know I made an impression on them and hopefully brought a bit of happiness into their lives. I would NOT want my family/friends to waste all of their “remembering me” energy and time on the day I passed! I don’t want them focusing on all the bad things in my life while I’m alive, I certainly don’t want them to focus on the bad when I’m gone. What about all the funny stories you have of me or the generous things I did while I was alive? So I give my late loved ones the same respect. I still miss them, I still shed tears now and then but I do NOT allow those tears to outnumber the good memories I have of them or their legend!
Here’s an example:
Every September 15th I eat a Godiva chocolate bar. I eat a Godiva chocolate bar because the last thing one of my “late” BFFs and I did together (outside of work) was ditch our terrible lunch and head straight to the Godiva store. On this day we were at a conference of sorts. During our lunch break, we walked to the nearest restaurant and ordered lunch. It was horrible! The food was undercooked, the staff was rude and there were gnats everywhere! Not just a couple of them, a whole family and extended family of gnats chowing down on every single condiment bottle on every single table. I can eat my lunch without condiments if I must. But gnats in my sweet tea… that’s a big fat NOPE! Anywho, I complained to the manager (politely of course) with the intent to at least bring these concerns to the management’s attention. Well, they were very kind and they refunded us the full price of our meals. My friend was probably terrified that I would cause a fuss but I didn’t and she was too polite to say anything to me either way. By this time, we only had a few minutes left of our lunch break so we decided to take our lunch money and spend it in the Godiva store. I had never tasted anything from this store but she just raved about it! I’m glad she did! The story has many more details to it but I will spare you those. The point is, this is one of my favorite memories of her and my heart smiles every time I even hear the word, Godiva! So, on her birthday last week, I ate Godiva while sitting in my recliner and listening to the Grease soundtrack (one of her faves). And I will continue to do this every year.
How do I know this technique is helping with my healing process?
- The BFF in that story passed away in a fatal car accident in January of 2003. I used to break down every time I even thought of her. Now I smile. Maybe with a tear in my eye but I smile when I hear her name.
- For the past “I’m not sure exactly how many” years now I remember around FEBRUARY that the anniversary of her death (in January) has come and gone and I didn’t do anything to honor it. On top of that, I don’t feel bad at all. As I said earlier, I think she would rather me celebrate her life, her birthday or even her children than the most tragic day of her and her family’s life!
My process may not work for anyone but me. You are more than welcome to give it a try though. But just in case, I have listed a few other ways to add the good stuff to your “think about” box! Take any or all of these and mold them if you need to fit your situation, feelings and comfort level.
10 ways to add some “good stuff” to your “think” box:
- Music – Any kind, any time, anywhere. Music is what feelings sound like!! You can make a playlist of their favorite songs or the songs that hold memories with them, to play at work. Or on their birthday, their children’s birthday…etc.
- Display gifts from them in your home – Doesn’t matter if it’s a Santa Hat, you proudly didplay that thing year ’round! No? It’s just me??
- Plant a tree or bush – maybe their favorite flower or the plant their perfume/cologne reminds you of
- Clothing – Do you have an article of their clothing you never want to lose? A very dear friend of mine once told me she had a piece of a very sentimental blanket sewn into her wedding dress. How creative is that?
- Find a hobby – You can do this to simply keep your mind distracted or you can make it personal by starting a hobby “for them”. Maybe you could start making keychains because your loved one collected keychains and all of the proceeds go to cancer research (because your loved one passed of cancer).
- Donate to a charity – This one is self-explanatory. I personally donate to the MDA Muscular Dystrophy Association) in honor of my first lost loved one.
- Pictures – Keep pictures around of them. Especially at special occasions. I had 2 trifold, tabletop picture frames on the table at my wedding reception. I felt like the people in those photos were still able to attend my wedding, in a weird way.
- Use something meaningful to them – Do you have your grandmother’s favorite cutting board? Use it!! Now, if that’s all you have to remember her by, then maybe hang it in your kitchen, but if you have more than just her cutting board, she would be so honored to know you are using it to feed your beautiful family. In fact, right before your family sits down to eat that meal, squeeze your kids’ cheeks just for her.
- Get a tattoo – This is the one I have not done yet. Not because I don’t like tattoos but because I have lost too many people in my life to get a tattoo for all of them. PC wouldn’t be happy if I came home with full sleeves! Hehe… However, this one might work for you. And I’m sure there is a tattoo out there that could represent your love for all of the people you have lost. in case you are in the same pickle I am in.
- Talk about them – never stop talking about them! Even if you are surrounded by 30 people who did not know this loved one, tell that story that just crossed your mind anyways. There have been hundreds of times where the people around me were telling funny stories and it reminded me of a late loved one. If you think you can get through that story without having to excuse yourself in order to hide that ugly cry face you usually make, then by all means just tell it! You won’t regret it!
This list is almost endless in my opinion. The things you do to heal are yours! They don’t have to make sense to anyone but YOU! And you don’t need to share them with anyone if you don’t wanna. This is your journey… Have any healing ideas of your own? Please feel free to share them in the comments section! Have yourselves a fantabulous week y’all!