On December 18th, 2018, after 12 years and 332 days of beautiful life, I had to say goodbye to my best friend: my dog, Happy. Putting her down was the hardest decision I have ever make but I know it was for the best so that she would be relieved of all the pain. For the first time in my life, it feels like a huge part of me is missing. When I come home there’s no happy wagging tail waiting for me, and no one sleeping with me, and no one to cuddle with when I’m sad. It’s incredibly hard to adjust back to my normal life. I feel as I am empty and lost.
Even while this journey of grief is on going, I know that many others, if not everyone, at least once in their lifetime also experience loss. Although it is difficult, there are ways that we can try to cope with grief.
Firstly, we can understand grief using the Kubler-Ross model. It can come in 5 to 7 stages: Shock, Denial, Anger, Sadness, Bargaining, Testing and Acceptance. When a tragic event occurs, it feels like the life has been sucked out of you and the air is knocked out of our lungs. Our mind blanks and we are just in shock. We tend to refuse to believe it. We have thoughts like, “This can’t be real. He or she can’t be gone. This shouldn’t happen to me”. Denial is a known as a defence strategy that we use when something extremely unexpected and out of the ordinary happens.
After we finally realize what is happening, we still do not accept it. So as the sadness emerges and peeks through, we quickly hide it and decide to cope with anger. We can be mad at the situation we are in, at family, random strangers, inanimate objects or anything in general. During this sensitive time, the anger slowly wears off and it feels like you fall into a dark abyss of sadness. You slowly realize you have lost something great that you may never get back. It is normal to feel empty, like a fog of depression is everywhere you look. You can feel lost not knowing how to take your next step. Even though this stage may seem like it will never end, it is a crucial step of healing and it is important to keep people you trust by you in this stage. When you begin to accept the situation, you may be saying the last goodbyes to the depression stage and finally landing in the “acceptance and growth zone”. You slowly fall back into the pattern of life and you figure out ways you can grow from this situation.
As hard as it is to deal with, there is no “make everything better” button that we can click. So one of the important skills to learn is how to cope. It is most important to accept your feelings and to not try to trap them inside. So allow yourself to cry and shout. It is all a healthy process. I would highly recommend talking it out with at least one person who you trust.
Another very important skill is to stay in tune with yourself and keep a good healthy schedule. Do your best not to stop your life and let emotions completely take over. Continue to eat all three meals a day, have a healthy sleep schedule, spend time with friends and family and take time to yourself.
I feel as if we learn the most and grow individually during hard times. We don’t know how long the period will last for, but what’s important is that we always keep going.
Losing something or someone you love is never ever going to be easy. Even though it seems like it will never end, one day the grief will pass and you will be left with all the beautiful memories, so stay strong.
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