I’ve been thinking a lot about loss; about my Mamaw and Papaw. My paternal grandmother, Mamaw Jerry, died almost 8 months ago. I’ve written about it a lot, here on the blog; working through my grief as I go. My Papaw, my maternal grandfather, died in 2018. He passed away after a short battle with cancer.
As I’ve told you, my grandparents meant a lot to me. Their homes were my homes. They were safety, love, and acceptance. Shortly after Papaw passed away, my family sold my grandparent’s home and put my mom’s mom in an assisted living facility. When they sold the house, I mourned the loss like I was losing my Papaw all over again. My heart still breaks that I have no home base anymore.
The Dawning Realization of Loss
I keep a picture of my Mamaw Jerry by my work computer. I often find myself gazing at it, smile on my face. I miss her from the bottom of my soul and every time I get the realization that she’s gone forever it catches my breathe. I’ll never hear her voice again. Never surprise her by just showing up at her door again. She’ll never tear up when getting off the phone. I’ll never again eat one of her amazing pork chops. Never hug her or hear her laugh
See? It’s too much when you think of it all like that. Things will never be the same for me; I’ll never experience the kind of love that my grandparents gave to me. Those safe places are gone now, never to return. It feels like a piece of me left with them, as though I’ll never be the same person that I was able to be when they were here.
Losing a loved one can have a significant impact on your mental health and your self-esteem. No matter who departs, you can feel like you’ve lost a part of yourself, and this can make you consider who you are and if you’ll ever be the same again. From here, there is a risk that you will struggle to get back to who you are and you will feel incomplete for the rest of your life. This is entirely understandable, but you must understand how to rediscover yourself after a loss, and here are a few ideas to explore.
Give Yourself All the Time You Need
Many people who have not experienced it do not understand that there is no timeline for grief. They might think that losing a loved one is hard, but they also expect people to get over it within a few months.
Grief is not linear. Sometimes it feels like you’ll turn inside out with the pain of it and sometimes you don’t think about it at all. There is no timeframe and no timeline.
Besides being downright insensitive, this opinion is also entirely incorrect. When you want to rediscover yourself after losing a loved one, you should give yourself as much time as you need. You should allow yourself to work through all of your emotions to help you conceptualize what has happened and what you can do next. Do not feel rushed, and take it one day at a time.
Don’t Hide Yourself Away
It’s always tempting to lock yourself in a room while grieving, but although this might feel like the best way to get through your issues, too much self-isolation could severely hinder your progress and affect your mental wellbeing.
You need interaction with others, whether it’s family, friends, coworkers, or even fellow grievers at grief sessions, to help you get to the next stage. You can still take some time to yourself, but it’s vital to understand when you should step outside your room and confront the world no matter how different it seems now.
Take Lessons From Their Life
One of the best ways to celebrate someone’s legacy is to take lessons from their life, which could help you rediscover yourself within them. My grandparents left a legacy of love, kindness, and taking care of family. The impression that they left on me will last a lifetime. They saved me and they didn’t even know it.
From following your dreams to living each day to the fullest or focusing on self-care, these lessons are crucial for recovering and overcoming your grief. Remember that they people that you’ve loved and lost loved you too. They would want you to be happy and to live your absolute best life. It is the best way to honor them.
Celebrate Their Legacy Your Way
You will also want to find a way to remember and celebrate them. There are many ways to do this, from dedicated benches for cemeteries to yearly parties to tattoos and more, you know them better than anyone else, and you can consider how you can memorialize them best.
My Papaw loved the 4th of July. Ever year we buy the biggest, most expensive, most impressive fireworks display that we can find and set it off just for him. Where ever he is, I hope he can see it and I hope it makes him chuckle.
These celebrations give you something to look back on whenever you feel like you’re losing yourself again and will help align your thoughts and feelings to stay on track.
You can’t expect to rediscover who you are overnight. Everyone will move at an individual pace, and it is not about who gets there first, just that you get there eventually. No matter how you choose to find yourself again — don’t rush it, take your time, and allow yourself to recover.
Grief never really seems to go away, it just changes. You change. You get better at living with it; better at carrying the pain. The gaping hole will always be there, but you figure out how to stop yourself from falling into it as often.
What I feel for my grandma and grandpa today is gratitude. I’m grateful that they were mine and that they chose to love me as fiercely and deeply as they did. Even with the years that separate my Papaw and I, I’m still trying to figure out how live as this new person without a grandfather. It’s a whole new identity. The same goes for my Mamaw.
The best that I can do is honor them. I know that they would both be proud of me. They probably wouldn’t understand the things that I’m doing right now (technology and all), but they would be proud that I’m dedicating myself to helping. They would be proud of how well I’m doing and how much hard work I’ve put in. They would be happy that I’m finally writing for other people to read.
If you’re dealing with a loss, no matter the timeframe, be kind to yourself. There is no time limit on how long you can miss the people that you love. Remember them often. Smile when you do. Take heed of the lessons that they taught you, the love that they gave you, and the impact they had on your life. Last of all, honor them by celebrating them when you need to and living your dream life in their name.
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Love and light. Keep fighting the good fight! 💜💜