Dealing With Death: Don’t Do What I Did

It’s January 1, and I should be writing about New Year’s resolutions.

But instead, let’s talk about death shall we?

After a friend’s dad died on Christmas Day (!), she poured her heart out to me in an email. Her emotions were raw, her grief was deep. And she was asking me for advice.

“How did you cope with your dad’s death? Does it ever get any easier? Do you still feel his presence?”

And as though I was riding on Marty McFly’s flux capacitor, I was transported back to my father’s 1997 death after his 4-year battle with ALS.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe I went though all of that – terminal illness, death, the grieving process – during my early 20s. But still, every now and again, grief hits me like a tidal wave and I’m reminded of that dark time.

So I started mulling over some encourage words for my friend: take care of yourself, don’t hold back the tears, give yourself the time to grieve.

But sooner than you could Google ‘new age wisdom,’ I started thinking about all the crap I did amidst my grief. Maybe this was the best advice of all — don’t do what I did!

I was the master a creating drama and drowning in victimhood. Sure, many 20-somethings are like this even without a dead father, but I became an expert. So much so, that I pushed people away…people that loved me were gone.

Can you hear the crickets? The. Phone. Was. Not. Ringing.

I remember that moment of clarity: “I have pushed everyone away. I am a bitter person.” And just like that, I began on a journey of healing that challenged my thinking and encouraged forgiveness – mostly of myself.

For me, the grieving process was the greatest gift. I became a better person and learned to create my reality – to be the CEO of my own happiness. The darkness no longer owned me.

And they don’t call it a process for nothing! Just when you think you’ve healed a wound, something brings you right back to those feelings of hopelessness and despair.

In my best efforts to support my friend and keep it real, I would like to gently suggest the following words of wisdom through the grieving process.

  • Use the word ‘dead.’ I’m not a fan of saying ‘passed away,’ it makes the experience seem fluffy and not real.
  • Eat properly. Exercise. Pray. We are humans and we must honor all parts of our being: mind, body and spirit.
  • Honor your feelings. Although your coping skills might seem less-than-evolved, don’t judge your feelings. Honor them and follow them. They will lead you to your truth.
  • Talk about death. Society does not prepare us for death, so many people feel awkard talking about it. Write down your feelings, share your grief with loved ones, move through the process.

How did you cope with the death of a loved one? What are some of your words of wisdom?

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