The answer is, in fact, very simple, dear painter: there is no right way to mourn.
Why am I writing this post, then? Well, because after being, yet again, confronted with loss, I’ve realized I’ve picked up a few things along the way and I’d like to share them with you.
I’d begin by saying that every loss process is different and everyone deals with it differently. When I think back to all the losses I’ve suffered, I can tell you they all had different meanings and were experienced in different ways, at different points in my life. So no one can give you an ultimate formula, there is none. But that’s part of the beauty, the importance and the magnitude that each life had on your own.
With that said, I think the main way to get through this rough time is to just allow yourself to feel whatever you feel. Admit it. Talk about it to a friend. To a therapist. To a family member. It’s particularly hard at first, talking itself is difficult when you just want to cry. But maybe you’re also mad. Or feeling hopeless. Or without support. And it’s important to share those feelings so that you can be shown that it’s possible to deal with them. Life will continue and these feelings might fade, but only if you stare them in the eye and work them out. And then, you can move on.
Allowing yourself to feel things doesn’t just go for the negatives, but also for the positives. Maybe you need a laugh with friends. Maybe you need a trip with your family. It’s okay, this too is a side effect of death: you are reminded of what is precious in life and you should allow yourself to enjoy it! Carpe diem – if anything, you have been shown life is nothing but a fleeting moment.
Don’t drown yourself with memories, but don’t avoid them either. Some people want to remember every little detail, others just want to forget completely. Both wishes can turn into something very overwhelming and all the more difficult to handle. Take your time, remember little by little and focus on something else if it’s just being too much. There’s this sort of feeling that you’ll lose those memories along with the person if you don’t remember every thing right away, but the truth is you won’t. They’re not gone, not entirely, and neither are the memories – they’ll return when you least expect them.
Talk about this person with someone, specially someone who knew them as well. It’ll remind you of how real they were. They didn’t just have an impact on your life, but in so many others around you. Notice that and cherish it. Look for the good they did to others, the good stories people have of them. You were lucky to have shared their life while they were around, and you should remember that.
Still, they probably weren’t perfect, and you’ll have to learn how to forgive them. It’s okay to be mad at a lot of the things they did – they were real, imperfect people, after all. But little by little, you’ll accept their flaws, their shortcomings, their mistakes. Think about how life is always made up of good and bad and realize they were flawed people, but nonetheless worthy of your love.
Think about how they are at peace. Most of us don’t have easy endings and go through a period of pain before we take that final crossing. But they have indeed crossed now, and they are better off. Those worries, limitations, problems, complications, sufferings that they experienced – it’s all put way past behind them. There is no more pain for them now, only the loving memories, prayers or thoughts you send their way.
And that kind of love – the one that transcends death – is what makes us truly eternal.