I lost my grandmother, my own dad, and my grandfather all in less than a two year period. Their deaths shattered and changed my world in a million ways. What feels like no time later, but was really four years, I lost my beloved godfather as well. For a while, I felt that loss was all I knew. Here are seven things I’ve learned after losing those closest to me.
1. Unexpected and expected losses both hurt.
I lost my grandmother and grandfather after battles with illnesses. My dad’s and godfather’s deaths were fast, sudden, and shocking. They all hurt, though. Loss isn’t easy, whether we expect it or not.
2. Life after death is a fog, and sometimes you forget things.
I remember very little about the months after my dad died. I was only 21, and losing him was something I had never imagined having to deal with so young. I went back to work a week after he died, and while I know it helped, it was mentally and emotionally taxing. The days after loss all blur together. Most of us are in a constant brain fog after death.
3. You’re allowed to miss them, even if it’s been a long time.
I naively used to think that people still talking about their loved ones years later were attention seeking. I now know this is wildly wrong. I even avoided talking about my dad for years because of this. I didn’t want people to think I was milking his death. I was wrong. It never goes away, and some years on his birthday or the anniversary of his death, I want to let other people know. It can be sad when you feel like you’re the only one that remembers them. That’s why people memorialize their loved ones, so they don’t feel forgotten or left behind.
4. The memories fade over time.
One thing I was most afraid of after my dad died was that I would forget things about him. This fear was warranted, because I have lost many of the details and little memories of my dad. I don’t remember what his voice sounds like anymore. It feels like I’ve looked at the same pictures or told/heard the same stories so many times. Each year he is gone, he slips further and further away, which is a sad reality. Sometimes because of this, I think I miss him more as time goes by. This is because he’s so far removed from my life now. I wonder who he would be today and who I would be if he was still here.
5. Look for the signs.
After my dad died, I was told to look for signs that he’s still here. I thought that was silly, but sometimes you get signs. Only you know them from your loved ones, but they’re there if you listen and watch for them.
6. People don’t know how to react to death.
I didn’t either. People think that not saying anything is better than saying something wrong or not knowing what to say. People are worried they’ll upset you. But when we do want to talk and there’s nobody there to talk to, that hurts. Sometimes people disappear or we lose friends during our hardest times because of this. Just be there. Send a text. Remind your friend you are there for them. Bring them a coffee or dinner. You don’t know how much that can brighten our day.
7. It does get easier.
Many people have asked me if loss gets easier over time. And it does. But there is pain in that too. Instead of counting the days, weeks, and months since you saw them, you begin counting years. The loss gets easier, and for that there is guilt and fear of leaving your loved one behind.
Loss has humbled me and taught me a lot. Because of loss, I have learned to value life. Always remember to be thankful for those you have, because they can be taken from you with no warning.