What’s My Impossible? Overcoming the Death of a Family Member
You’re certain to experience the death of a loved one in your lifetime. Here’s what to expect when it happens and how to deal with grieving.
When I was much younger, I understood the sadness of death in an abstract way. I saw it in movies and felt sad when a character died, but even when my grandparents died, I wasn’t close enough to them to experience true loss. And then I lost the person I loved most, and I went through a grief so intense, it took me years to recover my equilibrium.
But when you lose the person you love the most, your understanding of sadness and loss changes completely. Grief transcends sadness: It isn’t just an emotion or a reaction, it’s a spiritual and physical purging—a rewiring that has its own logic.
Grief makes no sense
Your initial reaction may be nothing. Or it could be screaming. It could even be laughing—there’s no right or wrong way to grieve. Your reaction to death will be very personal, and there’s no way to know how you’ll react until it happens.
The grieving process is not linear
Though there are stages of grief, you won’t simply wrap up denial on a Tuesday and enter anger on Wednesday. You may bargain for months, be angry for a day, and then go back to bargaining.
Grief is messy
Just as scientists would like to quantify the stages of grief, they’re also fond of talking about grief in clinical terms. But there’s no telling what your way of grieving looks like. It could involve weight loss or weight gain or crying in bed for six months. Losing a loved one is traumatic, and trauma manifests in different ways.
Grief is mandatory
You’re not getting out of this one because you simply can’t. And even those who refuse to go through the grieving process end up having to confront the ignored grief at some point in their lives. It’s healthy to grieve, and it’s also vital. There’s no way out of it: You just have to go through it.
Your body will do weird things
Get ready to cry for absolutely no reason. You may find yourself bawling at an intersection or weeping over minestrone soup. It’s okay: Your body and mind are coming to terms with loss, and they will do it on their own terms.
Death is an important part of the human experience. It’s excruciating, yes, but it’s also beautiful in its own way. You’ll find that losing a loved one opens you up to feeling deeper, loving fiercer, and living greater.