Loss and How to Come Back from It

Stephanie Margelowsky

You, me, that kid down the street who throws rocks at cars, we all suffer through the pain of loss at some point in our lives, and often, repeatedly. As we cope with loss, family and friends are quick to offer advice on how to “pull it together,” or “push forward.” The problem is that everyone experiences grief differently and at their own pace. We all know about grief, yet we are terrible at consoling it. That’s okay though. There is no Grief 101 class in school. As I learn to process my emotions while dealing with sudden loss, I hope to share some tips that have brought me back to passingly functional.  

Please grant yourself the time and safety to feel as sad as you need to. I recommend taking a long shower and sobbing hysterically. The water washes all evidence away and it saves those tissues for the hoard of family members that will be knocking on your door with casseroles and desert bars. I don’t understand the amount of desert that fills your counters when someone passes. Next time I am specifically requesting a fruit salad and veggie tray. As much as my sadness appreciates sugar, having to jump into my jeans to go to class has not been mood-lifting.  

Remember, it is completely okay to break down with close family and friends. In fact, it is okay to break down anywhere you freaking please. You are human and therefore you have no need to pretend to be perfect. Accept those over perfumed hugs from your Aunt Jean, or those awkward back pats from Uncle Jim. Leave tear spots and snot smears on their sweaters if you need to. Don’t try to act like everything is fine, your emotions are valid!  

Don’t lose your temper at the 59th person that asks you how you’re doing. I know it is frustrating. You are not doing well, and they know this. Humans are not great with personal sympathy. I personally believe it is what keeps Hallmark cards in business. They want to say the right thing, that perfect thing that will make you magically better. We all know that line doesn’t exist. This is the best that well-wishers can sometimes offer. Also, that awkward silence between two people when you don’t know what to say is grief shared. Grow to find contentment in the silence. It is often easier than small talk anyway.  

Cherish the memories. Go through saved photos, and videos. Create a collage or a folder dedicated to them, something that you can revisit repeatedly and smile. Revisit your favorite places together. Those golden moments you shared together, the secret laugh you shared at the dinner table, or that terrible Backstreet Boys song you shamelessly blasted in the car, keep them close to your heart always. Sadness is inescapable and at times overwhelming, but by keeping them close, each day is possible.  

Experiencing loss is emotionally and physically exhausting. It is the emotional rollercoaster from hell as you say goodbye. Take the time you need to grieve, but don’t forget to love yourself enough to heal. It may take a lifetime, but you deserve happiness as much as they did. Choose to love life enough for the two of you.