Grief and loss do something to us. While the incident may be similar – the loss of a loved one or a friend, a break up or even, getting laid off; the magnitude, impact, ways to cope and recovery from loss is unique to each of us.
“It happens, you just need to move on in life.”
“I know how you feel.”
“Don’t worry, there are so many guys out there.”
Well-meaning words. Helpful? Not quite. Sure, I needed to move on but what do you do when you feel an unexplainable sense of grief? Here’s sharing reflections of my journey going through loss and how I got up again.
1. Allow yourself to grief and un-numb
It was a simple decision to make but definitely not an easy one. The months that followed were an emotional roller coaster. There were days when bawling out while keyboard-bashing at work happened, just like that. And days when there was sunshine in my soul. Then, there were days when I felt void of emotion, just plain numb. Those down and dark moments at times seemed to last like forever. “Was there ever going to be light at the end of the tunnel?” I wondered.
I knew I needed help to face the days ahead. I discovered therapies to help me through the stormy period. Inspirational music and podcasts kept my spirits up and renewed my soul. Going for nature walks and outdoor runs did wonders for me. And yes, I allowed those streams of tears to flow, even if they came gushing unexpectedly at work.
Lesson learnt: Give yourself time to heal, if you need to cry it or talk it out, go ahead. Do what works for you, as long as they are not self-harming or destructive.
2. Find and build your support structure
Our extended family went through a tragic loss of a loved one who was gone too soon, close to seven years ago. I’ll be brutally honest, every time I think of what happened, my eyes still well up and there’s a lump in my throat. Unanswered questions remain to this day. And I have come to terms, though it took me a long while to get to this stage - that there are things that you will never understand in this lifetime. I chose to let go and trust that He knew best, that life and death was in His hands and He will give us the strength and comfort we all needed. We cried together, we prayed, we reminisced the good and funny moments shared together and sometimes, we just sat silent next to each other. We are closer today than we’ve ever been. And, that young, warm, friendly, talented and humble gentleman will always be remembered in our hearts.
Lesson learnt: Adjusting to a new normal can be a long and hard road. Find your support structure - family and/or friends you can trust and offer you sound advice. Don’t struggle on your own, reach out and be real.
3. Choose to focus outward
When you’re going through grief, pain, loss and regret, it’s easy to be sucked in a whirlwind of emotions. Memories, both good and not-so-good, can sometimes mess your mind and emotions up. At times, you feel like you’re almost losing yourself. Seek professional help if you need. As how we see a naturopath or physician when we are ill, seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist doesn’t make you any less.
After you’ve given yourself a reasonable time to grief and feel you’ve regained strength and ready, gradually turn your focus outwards and find ways you can help the less fortunate, groups of people you care about, the environment or animals. You will be amazed by the refreshing, positive vibes that come your way!
One fine day, I decided that I would pull myself up and look outside myself. I began to search for a cause I believed in and could contribute my time and energy to. I was fortunate to find a group of like-minded people who were passionate about community service, education and poverty alleviation among indigenous people. Ever since then, each time I meet the kids - playing games and having good fun with them never fails to bring joy to my heart!
Lesson learnt: Avoid getting wrapped into a world of me, myself and I. Step outside yourself, explore the world around you and make time for people who matter. Choose to be unselfish and find causes you can invest your time and efforts into. Start small and you will soon find that you will always receive so much more than you give.
4. Be bold to rediscover yourself
I learnt that I couldn’t change my past but I could learn from it. I could choose what I would do today and tomorrow. On hindsight, I’m glad that I chose to step out of my comfort zone. Being an extroverted introvert, I discovered a newfound boldness and decided to connect with new friends. We’ve done crazy, fun things together – from planning a hen’s night, outdoor sports, picnics, cookouts, stargazing and more adventures to come! Go ahead and explore what you love doing, revive a passion or try something new! Go for that hot air balloon ride, try making that chocolate flourless cake, join a Spartan Race or go on that trip to (insert your dream destination)! For me, learning to cook clean food, travelling, trying fly yoga and finding a job at PurelyB was among them!
Lesson learnt: The unfamiliar may seem daunting. Spend time soul-searching and ask yourself – “What do I enjoy doing?” If you don’t have an answer yet, no worries! Take the first step, be bold and genuine to build new friendships and experiment what’s outside your current world!
While I am today a happier and stronger person than I was before, I’ll be real with you - there are days that are tough, like awfully tough. That said, I choose to say goodbye to being disgruntled, unhappy or envious. Instead, in all things, I choose to be grateful, to celebrate the small and big joys and am ready to say hello to brighter, bolder adventures ahead! An attitude of gratitude, that’s it!