Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything. ~ C.S Lewis, A Grief Observed.
2020 has been a year of so many losses. Family, friends, vacations, careers, plans, summers and time. We’ve been stuck in our houses trying to salvage our time and function in a pandemic. We’re going through loss but we have no time to process it.
The first two weeks into the pandemic were great for writers stuck at home. We could finally write. Until we realised when we suffer as a collective, we suffer individually, regardless of whether you lost a family member, friend, job to the pandemic or not.
These are the lessons I have picked up from my journey with loss and grief, and lessons I’ve been meaning to put down on paper. Maybe they’ll make sense, resonate with you, and explain the gap in my writing.
1. You Can’t Go Through Life Without Experiencing Loss
We have all suffered in one way or another. We will all suffer in one way or another. Although we may not drink from the same cup, suffering is there. Suffering is present. Suffering is seasonal.
There is a time for everything. You may be suffering right now, but happiness will come. Happiness will last. Then suffering will appear again. Such is the seasonality of life. They may not last in equal measure, but they will be present. Make peace with this, and prepare in your great times, for the rainy days.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal… ~ Ecclesiastes 3.
2. Life Doesn’t Give You Time To Process Your Loss
I remember losing my sister when I was 11 years old and my parents came to fetch me from boarding school, for her funeral. I was in a boarding school for a year because it was fashionable and the norm in my country.
I remember having to go back to school soon after and thus began my journey with anxiety. Life doesn’t give you time to process loss, and people process loss differently. What takes a month for one, takes a year for others.
Life moves in quickly. It leaves you rooted in your ordeal, your loss, and your grief while everything rushes fast before you.
3. It Takes Time To Heal. Be Kind And Compassionate To Yourself
Nothing I do comes close to making feel better. And so I realize I am not meant to feel better right now. I am meant to feel what it is to deeply mourn. ~The Bright Side Of A Broken Heart.
Sometimes we get frustrated when we can’t heal quickly, get over it quickly and resume to our selves before the loss. But that person exists no more. There is no more you before the loss.
Sit in the loss. In the grief. Feel everything, acknowledge the feelings and unpack them. Don’t rush the process. Add to it systems to help you grieve, and heal.
4. You Learn To Find A Different Rhythm, A Different Way Of Living
Failure to adapt causes so much friction within us, our environment and the way we interact with ourselves and others. Maybe you need to learn how to live without a person, a job, a lost summer, cancelled plans, or downsizing. Every loss is valid, and every loss requires a change within us.
On August 6 2020, a day meant to be my sister’s birthday, we lost our grandmother. It’s a shock, and we’re learning to live without our matriarch. It’s hard, it’s tough to find a new system and live a life where her presence is missing but it’s necessary.
5. Grief Creeps Up Like A Thief
Simple things trigger you. A conversation, a mention, a thought, or a memory. Having to change your way of living will bring up all the pent up frustration and grief.
When this happens, don’t let it frustrate you. Go through it, it will pass.
6. You’re Going To Be Okay
Jenn Johnson captures this greatly in her song, you’re gonna be okay. I recommend this song to anyone feeling like they’re between a rock and a hard place.
Whenever I felt like grief would overwhelm me, this song always lifted my spirit. It still does. Maybe you’ll be a different kind of okay, but you’ll be okay.
7. It’s Important To Have A Support Network
Friends and family who are a video call aways especially in this period where we are under house arrest or books and movies that feel like home, a support network is extremely important.
They will prevent you from sitting in grief for way too long, wallowing, and remind you that life gets better with time.
You’re going to be okay.