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A 22 year old coping with grief

Do you ever find yourself tired of hearing the same thing over and over? You know that they mean well when they tell you “I’m Sorry,” or “they’re in a better place.” You may find that you are exhausted from hearing “No matter what, remember that they always loved you.” What these well meaning people may not understand is that these words can at times come off as condescending. Those good intentions aside, do those words really help? I don’t think so.

I’ve heard those words so many times over the years that they sound like a broken record! Let’ me share the realities about the grieving process. This is coming from a young person who lost their own dad fifteen years ago.

When you’re a kid, and you lose someone you love, your family tries to “shield” you. They withhold, or lie in hopes of sparing you from pain. They say things like “Daddy took a trip, he’s in a place called heaven.” or “You’ll see him again one day.”

Thank God that there was at least one straightforward adult in the mix. This person believes that children should be told the truth. We may be young, but we are not stupid! Don’t you think that one day we will question where this heaven is? Why are our loved ones there instead of walking through our door? Why did they leave us? Do you not think that we will notice that they don’t call our nickname anymore? Can’t you tell that we want to hear them say how much they love us? If they are in this “place” called heaven, when can’t they get on the phone and say hi? You may think we are weak and ignorant, but if you give us a chance, you’ll find that we are much stronger than you can fathom!

The first year everyone appears to be close. Until they get what they want! As those aims are met, (money, property, etc) the visits became shorter, and the distance becomes greater. It has become that I cannot get the family together to mourn the dead. They provide the same tired excuses mingled with their fake sincerity.”Sorry we can’t make it, but we really love and miss him.” The memories of a once united family fade away. Over the years this illusion of what you thought was a happy family is shattered. That’s when you get to see who is really there for you. As you get older you start to see that things aren’t really what they seemed.

In my case, my mom says that she is both my mom and dad now. I appreciate her for that, but it is still hard when birthdays come up, holidays, and other special events such as a prom. When you get married, your dad is supposed to walk you down the aisle. Yet my dad is gone. I can’t help but think sometimes that he should be walking through the door and scolding me for dating a loser! Yet it never happens, so I take a deep breath, and visualize what could have been. Though I am numb, he does live on in my heart and mind.

Even so, I still carry a giant weight on my shoulders. Everything in the home reminds me of the person I lost. Family refuses to update the photos for the past fifteen years. This makes it difficult to move on. It leads to sleepless nights, and many nightmares. It creates a sad appearance, and then everyone who knows you seems to look at you with pity in their eyes. They give you more of the same, “he still loves you.”

Eventually you realize that you require help to get past this.The overpaid therapists tell you that there are many ways to cope with grief and pain. They discourage withdrawing and suppressing of emotions. They also seem to disapprove of self mutilation, such as cutting and burning our skin. The last items on a long list of “disapprovals” were drinking and abusing narcotic substances. One day though, after so long, I realized on my own that all this self abuse was not the solution to my problems.

I have come to a few realizations when it comes to grief. Unless you have experienced a similar loss, then you cannot relate. You cannot appreciate the loss of such a powerful bond. The pain is ever present, but does not manifest itself, or overcome all the time. However, at the drop of a dime it can surface. When it does, let it out! Cry, scream, punch a pillow, do whatever you feel is necessary. You have to let it out, or it will devour you. Society looks at crying as a form of weakness, but it is part of the grieving process, so by God, LET IT OUT!

Another piece of advice, be wary of the company you keep. Believe or not, there are people who pretend to have your best interests at heart, yet they thrive, feed off of, and contribute to your aching. Some go as far as to manipulate you into “needing” them. Keep your eyes open for those snakes!

Grieving the loss of a loved one is never an easy thing. It doesn’t get easier and it is probably the most difficult thing I’ve had to do in my short life. Coming to that realization that no matter how hard you love them, no matter how hard you cry, beg, or pray, that they will never be here again. That is the most difficult part. Our managing editor, Angel, has experienced and expressed similar sentiment. The pain never goes away, but as with most things in life, you adapt, and you survive. That’s what our loved ones would want, I’m sure of it.

If you are in contact with someone who is going through the grieving process, please be supportive. Listen when they need it, speak when they need it, and allow them to release their heartache in whichever (healthy) form they wish.

If you are grieving, find your outlet. Be that poetry, writing a letter to them, or simply talking to a friend. The soul of your loved one will receive the message. Know that you are not, and don’t have to be alone. If not for my getting help, I don’t know that I’d be here writing this today.

If you are grieving, I hope that my words have helped you.

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