Imagine a slim, glass cup, tipped on its side from the edge of a sharp tabletop bench. Slowly, it sways side to side. Just a little bit. But that little bit was enough for it to begin free falling into the vast space of what seemed empty. It feels effortless, as it dives down, greeted by the stone-hard marble floor. Infinite shards of glass pieces slowly come apart, resting helplessly on the ground. Some piece fly miles away, as the crumbs stay at where it fell. It’s too late now. Nothing can fix it.
You pick up the pieces, but you can’t. You just realised that the glass was you.
It’s easy to describe your experience of grieving with the analogy of a glass cup. At any moment in time, you may feel that pang of sadness. That feeling of disappointment, fear, anger – the list is endless. You probably won’t even be able to identify the sole emotion you are experiencing because let’s face it, even you don’t know what you’re feeling.
There will be people telling you left, right and centre about what you should be feeling. “Stop looking so down” to “Come on, cheer up!”, are some phrases that they insist, will inevitably cheer you up. You may smile, thank them for trying, but at the end of the day, you haven’t changed. You’re still miserable. But you know what? That’s okay. You’re going to be okay.
There are no standardised methods for grieving, so you should always avoid believing what people tell you about what they think they know about grief. Don’t believe that there is a ‘norm’. The only norm you have to adapt to is the one that you feel comfortable abiding by and the one that you believe you can achieve and sustain.
Let’s break a few of the most COMMON myths about grief together.
False. Trying to ignore your pain or just suppress it from surfacing will just hit you harder and be worse for you to handle in the LONG run. At the end of a long day, distracting yourself from grieving, you may even begin to hate yourself for not doing anything to improve yourself. You will find yourself still in pieces. It’s better to just deal with it right here and now. This doesn’t mean locking yourself up in the house and crying – this means finding suitable ways for you to relax and come to terms with reality. Being able to spend time for yourself, thinking about your future will be a good place to begin.
False. You can pull off a façade, put let’s face it. Your heart still hurts – your mask will crumble and soon, you will be living a life of misery. Everything reminds you of them. Crying is a normal stage to grieving – you don’t need to hide it. Remember that expressing your feelings will help your understand yourself better, understand how you can handle the situation better. You should speak to those who you trust. Just the simple act of talking and the expression of feelings will lift a heavy burden off your shoulders.
False. People grieve differently. Crying is only ONE way, but it’s definitely NOT the only one. So don’t be feeling guilt when you can’t cry. Maybe you’re already over the grieving stage and that you’re ready to move forward with your life. Don’t let any small statement or conscious guilt trip you into dwindling backwards. Once you’re ready to move on, allow yourself to do so.
False. There’s no time frame for grieving. If it takes you shorter than a year, great! If it takes you longer than a year, that’s still fine! However if you still find yourself trapped in a blackhole of negative thoughts and whirling down into depressive breakdowns involving lethargic daily activity, don’t be afraid to consult a psychologist – there are some techniques may help you overcome grief in a more suitable way for you (e.g. yoga).
False. You must, MUST make sure that you are in the right mentality first. You don’t want to be glued together with false hopes and lies that you tell yourself, just to be re-shattered later on in life. You should definitely prioritise yourself and essentially your wellbeing before anything else. You are the navigator of the road ahead so you must ensure that you have a thorough understanding of yourself before you go ahead with anything else.
Other Ways You Can Express Your Emotions
- You should try to express your feelings in a tangible or creative way – this may be like writing a letter, creating a scrapbook, making an album to celebrate your loved one’s life.
- Physically, you must get out there and do a few laps at your nearby park. Nothing’s worse than being physically unable to move and resulting in respiratory problems.
- Don’t listen to people when they tell you to ‘move on’ or ‘get over it’. When the time is right and you’re willing to accept it –then you do it. Other’s impositions on you are not important.
- Plan ahead of time for these grieving triggers. Of course, when you see something, do something, go somewhere, there will always be a reminder of them. Don’t let that scare you. Embrace the feeling with a welcoming and memorial service spaced for you to honour your loved one. Don’t let this frightening thought hone you down – with open arms, accept it and live how you would.
Once you’ve glued yourself together with the right adhesive, you will be unbreakable. Don’t let these myths tear you apart further. Learn to live and most importantly, love yourself and become whole again.