How To Handle Grief

Unlike many people, I can say that death is not new to me. Over the last 25 years, I have attended my fair share of viewings and funerals, both for family and family friends. However, the death of my aunt hits me differently. As per my last blog post, her death was is a hurt like no other. 

When my aunt was released from the hospital, she was palliative with a prognosis of fewer than two months to live. Following our desire to take care of her full-time and to fulfill her final wish of wanting to be surrounded by family and not placed in hospice care, we had her living with us. I cared for my aunt around the clock and she lived another two weeks and a day after being discharged before peacefully passing away. I say all this to say, in the sad wee hours of the morning on Saturday, March 19, 2022, I watched my aunt take her last breath and pass away in my mom’s room as we all surrounded her.

My Aunty Dulcie

During this last week and a half, I have been trying to cope with the loss of my aunt. They say we all have to go some time, though her time happened so suddenly that we didn’t have enough time to process it.

Because this is my first time dealing with grief and loss of this magnitude, I sought resources online to find guidance on how to cope. One article I found helpful was from camh (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health).

Read this post from camh: Coping with loss and grief.

According to camh, there are five stages of loss and grief:

  • Denial and Isolation, where we tend to deny the reality and it becomes a defense mechanism to help us with the shock and the pain.
  • Anger that could be aimed at anyone or anything because of the emotional pain.
  • Bargaining occurs when as a result of feeling helpless, powerless and vulnerable we feel the need to take some control by asking ourselves if we could or should have done something differently.
  • Depression with associated sadness, worries, regrets, and loneliness.
  • Acceptance, which is about accepting the reality and recognizing that the new reality is the permanent one.

Also, there are various emotions people often experience such as:

  • Being in shock
  • Feeling sad
  • Feeling angry
  • Feeling lonely, guilty or helpless
  • Fear and anxiety.
  • Feeling alone or that we won’t be able to cope are normal reactions.

With regards to ways of coping, I exercised some points from the site:

  1. Usually, I am someone who keeps everything, but this time around, I found comfort and peace connecting with others, whether it be family, my boyfriend, or close friends and expressing my feelings. I felt more relaxed once I could express myself and have someone relate to me or give me comforting and encouraging words.
  2. Although I am a Christian, I did find myself leaning more into my faith during this time and seeking comfort in the fact that my aunt has returned to the Lord and that she is the one happy and free.
  3. Furthermore, I indulged in some self-care where time permitted. I went for walks, spent time with my boyfriend and friends, and tried to get as much sleep as possible.

Although the camh site did not mention this on the website, I found comfort in looking at pictures of my aunt and watching an old vlog from when we went to Jamaica in 2017. This is something not everyone can do because it could be triggering. On the other hand, I found comfort in looking at remembrances and knowing that she lived a long life and enjoyed it the best way she knew how.

Overall, dealing with grief and loss is subjective. We all have unique coping mechanisms, and people must respect them. Remember to allow yourself to feel and grieve. There is no shame in showing your emotions and letting them be acknowledged. 

Although grieving is not an overnight process, I am comfortable enough to allow myself the time and grace required to do so. 

1 thought on “How To Handle Grief

  1. Natalie I cried reading this blog post. I can certainly relate. His mercies are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness 🙏🏽

    Liked by 1 person

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