I read one day grief is just love with no place to go and it’s true. It was shortly after I lost my mother in 2016 to ovarian cancer, I started looking for answers to the question, “What am I supposed to do without my mother?” I looked everywhere and responses ranged from pray about it, go on with your life, to I understand what you’re going through from people who have never lost anyone close. I was looking for answers in all the wrong places. Here are my 4 suggestions on what to do after losing a loved one.
Talk to someone who has experienced losing a loved one just like you. My friend Tara was my saving grace. I recall receiving her phone call while in the office and the gut-wrenching scream said she’s gone, she’s gone! I dropped my head and repeatedly said I’m so sorry…I didn’t know what to say. I remember calling her after my mom died and apologizing for saying the cliché lines because they are so impersonal. We cried and she said we’re going to get through this together.
I called my friend Jacoya at the crack of dawn in silence and she knew immediately what that meant. All I heard was I’m on my way! I remember looking out the window and there she was at the front door looking at me. We sat on the steps and she held my hand as my mother’s body was brought out the front door of my childhood home. I still can see that day. She held my hand so tight and has never let go.
Nobody can tell you what to do after you’ve thought you heard your mother’s voice, or you can hear her laugh during her favorite show or the feeling of wanting just to hold her hand. You really start thinking am I losing my mind and the answer is no. These are all normal and the many things you used to like doing probably will change. Holidays, baby showers, weddings and birthdays will be different.
Journal your pain. I started writing down my feelings because my thoughts were all over the place. I had so many questions and every day was a new question. I was uncertain in every aspect of my life because I was lost. Journaling allowed me to say all my thoughts and I used it as a way to speak to my mother. I started journaling once a week then it increased to a couple times a week.
Schedule an appointment with a professional life coach.
Life coach or therapist, which ever you feel comfortable calling that person, is helpful in the healing process. Let me just say, it took me two years to get to this step. I was in denial that I needed therapy because my family said they didn’t need it. One day talking to my husband I told him I can’t do this alone and I asked my network for referrals. After trial and error, I found Dr. Andrea Francis who has changed my life. You will get to a point where the weight of it all will become too much for anyone to endure. You need actual steps from a trained professional on how to better your life and that’s what therapy provides me.
Identify your support system. You’re still numb and in shock that you’ve actually lost someone. Your support system will come in two waves, short-term and life-long support.
There will be some people who will call you once they’ve heard the news from others. They’ll come by the house, send some flowers, deliver some food, attend the service, and will send their prayers for about two weeks after.
Then you have lifelong support. They’re going to rarely text and often call. The words I love you will come out of the blue because they were thinking about you. This person will initiate activities, send you words of encouragement, and remember special dates. They will not just send prayers they will also provide resources. I’m going to say it again; they will not just send prayers but will provide resources. You can do all the praying you want but if you don’t take steps to address your emotions, you will begin coping. They will introduce you to others who have lost a loved one, send you articles about grieving, they’ll do less talking and more listening. It took me two years to figure this out and I’m still learning. This is your support system and it will consist of family, close friends, and other people you would least expect.
I want to hear from you. What are some things that have helped you through this situation?