One of the hardest events to experience is the loss of a loved one. I remember the day my father passed away. I was 17 years of age and the last time I saw him was April 24, 2007. It was as if he was there one second and gone the next. No one can really prepare for death because whether you know it’s happening or not, the fact of the matter is that person is gone. It was hard for me to imagine life without my dad and it was even harder to imagine life with him while he was gone. At that moment, I didn’t know how to respond. I was angry, frustrated, sad and confused. My emotions were all over the place. It felt like someone had grabbed a big chunk of me and pulled it out leaving me helpless with this gapping hole inside of me. The big question I asked was, “Now what?” Here are 5 steps for you to take after you’ve experienced the loss of a loved one:
- Breathe. The one thing I’ve seen most people do when they lose a loved one is panic. It’s natural and normal but it’s important to breathe in this time. Breathing allows you to be able to process what just happened. It’s an outward expression that there’s life yet. Even in the midst of death, there’s life. Taking a deep breath, inhaling and exhaling, creates peace. Yes, it’s hard but this should be the first step.
- Express your emotions. It’s imperative that you do not bottle in your emotions. If you internally pull away the very thing that is causing you sanity, you eventually reach a point of insanity. Emotions are important because it shows that we are human. We are real people with real situations and real feelings. Suppressing these feelings will only manifest in other ways that are unhealthy. Cry, shout and get out the hurt that’s screaming inside of you. My problem was that I had a hard time expressing my emotions. I was left emotionless and it led me to places that did not help me throughout life. It affected my mindset, my relationships and my heart. Find someone you trust and express how you feel.
- Don’t blame God. In life, we live to die. It’s that simple. We often blame God for either how a person died or the timeframe in which the person passed. Yes, even I blamed God for my father’s death. I asked a lot of questions that began with “why.” I had to come to the understanding that, sometimes things happen that have nothing to do with God. It’s just life. I wish God could raise my father up like he did Lazarus, but even Jesus himself was prone to death to save us from our sins. It’s a part of life and we have to trust God in this process to help us through it.
- Stay Active. How can I stay active after something so traumatic happened to me? You breathe, express your emotions, trust God and after all of that you activate your mind stimulating it with positive things. The last thing you want to do is do nothing. Doing nothing leaves space for negativity, depression and sickness. It is unhealthy and unproductive. During this time, you should begin to value and love those around you. Volunteer at a church, feed the homeless, workout at the gym or read a book. Staying active is not saying nothing happened. It’s acknowledging the fact that it did happen and moving in pursuit to life like their still there. It’s important not to get so busy at work that you forget to process your emotions. Staying active should not replace the expression of your emotions. Staying active is a way to motivate your life to pursue happiness after death.
- Get connected to God. I realized after day 2 that my strength was coming from the Lord. I shut everything out but I knew I had to let God in and when I did, He gave me the strength and the courage to move on. You may be wondering how you’re going to make it. Maybe it’s your brother, your mother or your grandmother who died but one thing I know for sure and that is God will always be with you. It’s a daily, sometimes hourly struggle to manage the hurt inside. You can’t do it alone. Find a local church, pray, read the bible and get to know Jesus on an intimate level. You’ll begin to understand that He is your strength in your times of weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) and that the power you posses to overcome lies within Him. You can make it through this!
Even in the midst of death, there’s life. God has a plan and purpose for all of our lives. Things will not always go the way we planned them out to be. We have to have our faith rooted and grounded in God so that we can handle the unexpected. The pain is real, the hurt is unimaginable but God’s love can heal that hurt and pain. Death was a realization for me that I needed God more than I could have ever imagined. I’m not in control of what happens around me but I can control my emotions and how I handle things that happen in my life. You can survive this and you WILL overcome.
– Lorelco Mulzac