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We Get No Choice. If We Love, We Grieve.

The pain of losing your loved ones can be one of the most wretched feelings anyone can experience. I’ll tell you this one secret: You’ll survive this.

It’s natural to get tired of people telling you to be brave and that you’re going to be okay when all you want is to scream at the world. I was young when I lost my younger brother to pneumonia. I was appalled when I heard about it. My house quickly turned into a museum of people coming in and out, rushing to see the body presented like art, and weeping till no tears came out. I did nothing and watched it all as the moments started engraving themselves in my mind. Although getting over a childhood trauma like this has been hard, it was never impossible.

People often consider experiencing grief a sign of weakness. Is it true, though? Absolutely not. Being emotional due to death is probably the most humane thing.

Grief is the price we pay for love.

Queen Elizabeth II

One of the most asked questions is how do you get over grief? The answer, “You don’t”. You can’t get over grief, but you can get used to it and learn to live with it. You learn that your memories of your loved one have become part of you.

People are always in a hurry to tell you that time will heal everything. For once, they might be right. The pain will fade with time. Death can never be expected, despite the fact that it is one of the promised truths.

If you are feeling this way, please know that you’re not alone. I give you credit for making it through the day. I struggled with my loss and slowly as time passed, I learned to accept and deal with the harsh reality of the truth facing me.

There are plenty of healthy ways to cope with grief. Some of the tips I have learned are:

  • Be patient with yourself. You can’t cure grief overnight. All you can do is feel. Feel the pain find its way to you. Scream into your pillows, shout at the top of your lungs, and scribble in your notebooks. Learn to let it go. It will take a long time, so give yourself the time you need to grieve. But grieve. Everyone has their own way. Some pray, some scream, some talk, some pick up an activity. The key is to make sure your outlet is not consuming you and leading you to a dark path.
  • Accept the reality. Try to believe that there is good in every bad situation. Don’t punish yourself or think you are receiving what you deserve. Talk about your feelings even when you feel uncomfortable.
  • Maintain your interests. While you are grieving, distraction is a helpful tool. Read your favorite books and watch your favorite movies. Getting back into a routine can be difficult at first, but trust me, you’ll feel a lot better.
  • Know, you are normal. How you feel is normal. What you feel is a simple response to love that can seem quite complicated. Grief comes in loops. You can make progress one day and then be back at square one the next day. This is part of the healing process. It is not a straight line.
  • Reminiscence. Don’t forget to preserve the memories. Collect their pictures, write their words, and store their belongings. Most people wouldn’t want to do that, but in the future, when you miss them, you can always look back at their things and feel their presence. Some say move on, but to me, having some of my brother’s belongings that I can look back on meant a lot to me.

I share my journey in hopes that my experience will help you. The first few years after my brother’s departure was like a black-and-white movie featuring my family’s never-ending tears. By that point, I had learned not to ever bring up the topic as it never ended in anything other than tears. The more I held back from remembering, the more it bothered me. Years passed by and life moved on, but we still didn’t.

But things changed. We learned to grieve. We learned to talk about him. We don’t try to forget him anymore. We learned to embrace his memories and live with them. We learned that death is not the end, but part of the journey for all of us. We just have different ways to get there.

Grief is a most peculiar thing; we’re so helpless in the face of it. It’s like a window that will simply open of its own accord. The room grows cold, and we can do nothing but shiver. But it opens a little less each time, and a little less; and one day we wonder what has become of it.

Arthur Golden

For me, experiencing grief was a life-changing event. I felt like looking at the world through a different pair of eyes. It prepared me to be strong, to be able to deal with what life had planned for me. I’ve heard that grief can destroy you or save you. I think it depends on how you cope with it and that is probably why asking for help is important. I have learned life is short and highly unpredictable. I became more careful about using the time I have to make the most out of it. I look back and realize, I am still grieving, and still processing my brother’s passing. I am still learning. I’m slowly learning to be positive about everything that happened. But I know that I am stronger, and my brother lives on in me. I have learned to rely on the strength of my friends and family, and know now that I am not alone. The will rise again and I will continue to live and to remember.