Losing a loved one is a whirlwind of emotions. From shock to grief, and just about every feeling in between, it’s a moment you can never prepare yourself for.
When I lost my mom over the summer, I received tons of advice. Take care of yourself. Get a pet. Concentrate on your work.
But it wasn’t until going through the grieving process for several months that I learned some valuable lessons — the things that people don’t tell when you lose that important person in your life.
Here are just a few.
Sometimes You “Forget” That They’re GoneTaylor Grote/Unsplash
When you lose someone who was a massive part of your life, it’s hard to wrap your head around the fact that they’re suddenly gone.
For a split second when I’m filled with excitement about good news or heartbroken over some problem, my hand still goes towards my phone to call my mom by instinct. Until I very quickly realize nobody will be there to pick up.
While this continues to be hard for me, it also makes me realize that I’m lucky to still have others in my life who support me. When I do reach for the phone, there are family members I can call.
After a while, you’ll start to realize how thankful you are to those other people in your life.
Sometimes You’ll Want to Be Alone, And That’s OkayMartin Kníže/Unsplash
If you’re lucky like I was, there will be people around more than willing to offer their support. But sometimes, turning down those offers to “go see a movie and cheer up” or “grab some drinks” feels like the best move — and that’s perfectly okay.
Everyone processes grief in their own way, so you shouldn’t feel guilty for taking some time to yourself. There are times when self-reflection is the best way to figure out how to move forward.
And that’s something that can take a while to figure out.
The Bad Times Don’t Matter So Much AnymoreBen White/Unsplash
Relationships change all the time throughout the course of life, but to my surprise, I felt like my relationship with my mom changed even after she passed. Like many mothers and daughters, we often butted heads over even the smallest of issues.
But now I find hard to remember her by anything other than the strong ways she influenced me in my life. The issues that seemed to press on our relationship a short time ago have transformed into what feels like an afterthought.
And in that sense, it’s much clearer to me now how much that relationship meant to me.
You Suddenly Value Your Time With Others So Much MoreAditya Romansa/Unsplash
Before I lost my mom, I thought I did everything a dutiful person should do for their family. I chose thoughtful Christmas gifts, I remembered to send thank you cards, I kept a smile on my face when family members told me being a vegetarian was unhealthy.
But it wasn’t until now that I realized just how precious every moment I get to spend with my family really is.
So take a second to call your grandmother or that uncle you haven’t talked to since Thanksgiving. Sharing your life with a loved one is one of the greatest gifts you’ll get.
Grief Comes in Waves, But So Does HealingAziz Acharki/Unsplash
Reminders of loved ones are all around you, both good or bad. Sometimes, the simplest thing like a flower near the sidewalk or a song on the radio can remind you of the person you lost. And that’s going to be hard — like really, really hard.
Amazingly, those little memories can bring back a big wave of grief, but they’re also powerful reminders that the memory you shared with your loved one will always stick with you.
After a while, those little things will hopefully bring a smile to your face instead.
Life Moves on Whether You’re Ready or NotDenys Argyriou/Unsplash
People expect you to need some downtime after losing a loved one, but you’ll most likely have to continue on with your daily routine whether you’re mentally and emotionally ready or not. And sometimes, that means putting on a happy face when you’re actually struggling.
But after a while, you’ll realize that making it through a long day at work or school doesn’t feel like such an uphill battle anymore.
Which brings me to my next point…
You’ll Realize You’re Stronger Than You ThoughtAriana Prestes/Unsplash
Of all the condolences, apologies, and comments I got after my mom passed, the one that stuck out the most was something small said by a friend in passing.
“I couldn’t make it through what you went through,” she said.
And at first I thought — well, what other choice did I have but to make it through this? But as the months went by I realized something that for some reason seemed hard for me to admit. I am actually strong.
Continuing on after losing someone previously instrumental in your life takes strength. Finding ways to turn the pain into a reason to do better takes strength. And letting yourself heal takes strength.
If there’s one major thing people don’t tell you when you’re going through the grieving process, it’s that you’ll find power in yourself along the way.