It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure this out, but getting over a death is not about getting back to who you were and how you felt before the loss. That, unfortunately, is impossible. Death leaves slashes across your life, dividing it into ‘before’ and ‘after’ segments. As such, you have to learn how to treasure the before without hanging onto it too tightly—doing so will stop you from moving forward into the after. It takes a while to get to grips with this one, but knowing you eventually have to might help you get there quicker.
5. Everything Doesn’t Happen For a Reason
When you are in mourning, a lot of people will tell you everything happens for a reason. These people are well-meaning, but absolutely infuriating. Sometimes terrible things just happen and are impossible to make sense of. Please don’t waste your energy on trying to find meaning where there is none. Focus instead on the healing you’ve got to do—it’s time much better spent.
6. Your Body Might Feel Permanently Different
Deep grief for a lot of people feels a lot like being hollowed out and weighed down simultaneously. At the start, that extra weight you feel is unwieldy and exhausting and it can drag you down to the point of depressed immobility. You think you’ll never be able to carry it on your own. And there’s a good chance that your friends and family are going to need to help you shoulder that burden. After a while though, you do figure out how to carry the weight on your own. And after a long time, you’ll have entire days and weeks where you don’t even notice it. After an accident or an operation, there is a period of figuring out how to function in your new body. Sometimes grief necessitates a form of physical recovery as well.
7. Don’t Forget to Cry When You Want To
It sounds so basic, I know. But culturally, we are not in a place where we can all just burst into tears whenever we feel like it—even in a pandemic. And holding it in is legit bad for you.
In the first half of 2020, I lost two friends in three days, and then my dog died. In the second half of 2020, I was suddenly afflicted with severe and chronic back pain that massage, physiotherapy and acupressure all failed to fix. The thing that rid me of it in the end? Energy work that was performed by a concerned friend over the phone. (I didn’t even know such a thing existed.) The many distractions and stresses of 2020 meant I had not been crying enough. My body needed me to stop and let it happen, and it physically hurt me until I finally did.
8. Using Alcohol and/or Weed is Fine
If you’re grieving, unless sobriety is something you’ve been actively working towards or living with, do not beat yourself up for wanting to take the edge off. A lot of professionals don’t feel okay admitting this out loud, but which is better: staying up for three days with raging grief-insomnia or drinking a glass of whiskey and/or smoking some indica, so you can actually get some rest? Using alcohol or any other substance as a daily crutch is not going to go well in the long term. But grabbing a break from the pain every now and again is perfectly fine—unless you are an addict or risk harming others by imbibing.
9. You Already Know You Need Therapy, Right?