By: Janice Johnson-Plumer
Many times, we are forced to find words to comfort someone who has lost a loved one. We try to be there for our friend telling them, “sorry for your loss,” “please let me know if there is anything I can do,” or “I am here to help.”
But what if you are the one who is experiencing the loss? What are some ways you are able to get through the experience? There is no wrong or right way to get through it, but I do know it is a day by day process. Since experiencing my loss I have found the following tips to be helpful:
A relationship with a higher being: I find that by having a relationship with God and my church has helped me tremendously. Members of my church were very instrumental with the arrangements, logistics and just being a wealth of support. Whatever your higher power is, tap into it as often as you can.
Prayer: Praying openly has helped me through many emotions that I experienced when I lost my mother. In addition to sadness, I also felt anger, wondering why this happened to me at this point in my life. I found myself praying in my car on my way to work, in the bathroom, while I walking on my lunch hour, or at my desk. Sometimes I would utter one word and it made me feel a lot better.
Exercise: I lost my mother on a Wednesday morning and I was at the gym the next day. Running on the treadmill allowed me to release any stress that I had. When I was lifting weights, the “rest” period gave me time to reflect and think of my mother. Exercise allowed me to release a lot of my sadness while still feeling good about myself.
Surround yourself with people: There were times when the telephone would ring all the time and I couldn’t bear repeating over and over what happened to my mother. I realized I needed to be around people who knew my mother and we could share memories and talk about the good times we had with her. I know you may think you want to be alone, but being around people helps you to get through your loss much better than being alone.
Know your history: Family history that is. Get to know your family history. Many of my mother’s relatives live in Virginia and I haven’t been there since I was 9. When my mother passed her relatives came to the funeral and I didn’t know who they were! It was an opportunity for me to sit with them and find out how they were related to my mother and how we had a connection. It allowed us to exchange numbers to plan a family reunion for this summer. Reaching out to family members you haven’t seen allow you to have a common thread with each other.
Be a blessing: My mother was a very nurturing and giving person. She did so much as a mother, wife, grandmother, and mother in law. This has helped me to be the same way in my relationships with my father, sister, husband, son and my in-laws. I will try to reach out and be a blessing, especially to those in need. I recently became a mentor to young girls between the ages of 16-22. What I have learned from my mother I will put into practice with others.
Share your loss: It’s hard to speak about your loss with others. However, I have found that when I mention my loss to others – especially women – I come to realize that I am not the only one who has lost a mother. I know that I have a common thread with these women and it helps discuss how they were able to deal with their loss. Their suggestions have definitely helped me.
Write your story: Journaling has helped me a great deal. When my mother was going through her cancer treatments she was told to journal, although she told me she didn’t know what to write. However, I realized my mother kept a pocket calendar for 2012. On each day she would write a word or a sentence to express how she was feeling or what she was going through that day. I read through it all the time because it’s my mothers’ story and I can feel her presence when I read it. It will also be used as a basis for writing a book one day. Even if you only write a word or a sentence, journaling can still be part of the healing process.
I hope the above tips will help you during your grieving process. If you have any other suggestions please feel free leave a comment. I am still grieving for my mother but it has become easier as time goes on.
What are some of the things that have helped you during your time of loss?