"Grandma Joy just died."
The words hit me in the gut. I couldn't wrap my mind around what my mom just told me.
I had my newborn baby in the car and we had just left her 2 week checkup. Everything was looking good. It's the start of her new life in this world full of possibilities, anticipation, and excitement.
On the phone, I just learned of the death of my grandma. It was her end.
In this moment, I was at a crossroads like I have never experienced: a new life beginning and another just ending. A new baby girl full of life in the back seat and Grandma Joy no longer living on the other end of the phone.
I did not know what to feel or how to begin processing the loss.
We all experience loss. It’s an essential part of life. Loss can be losing a loved one, a job, or a relationship.
Coping with loss can be one of the most challenging times in our lives.
How do we step through loss in a healthy way?
Process the Loss
We all experience loss in different ways. Some want to talk, some want to keep themselves busy, and some want to ignore what's happening.
There is no one size fits all. What is important is for us to process our feelings during a time of loss.
Unprocessed feelings can cause other problems none of us need or want. Challenges with depression, anxiety and self-esteem to name a few.
To prevent these from creeping into your life, we need to acknowledge what is happening.
Learning to process loss in the way that works best for you is part of living a healthy life. Each of us will need something unique and a different amount of time to work through our emotions.
The question for you and I is this: what do we need to process loss in life?
There is no wrong answer. The only wrong is to avoid the feelings. Instead of avoiding, embrace the feelings that come with loss.
What do you need in a time of loss?
Everyone approaches loss in their own way. Each of us are unique people so it only makes sense that we'd each process loss in our own, unique way.
There are always more things you could or should do. That isn't the point. The point is to step through loss and process the feelings.
When you approach loss, here are 4 ways to step through it:
- Recognize & acknowledge you are experiencing loss: instead of ignoring, accept the feelings that are coming.
- Take steps to process those feelings: find ways to work through what is coming up. This can be taking time to journal, talking with a friend, or going on a walk. Just be sure you take the steps to process those feelings.
- Know it might take more time than you want: remember that there is no concrete timeline for processing loss. You need to take the time for you to work through the feelings. Also, it may not all come at once. You may find the feelings come up again at a later time.
- Make time for self-care: don’t forget to take care of yourself. Whether it be doing something alone or hanging out with a friend, take time to care for yourself.
Lessons on Legacy from Loss
My Grandma Joy passed away 8 years ago. She was dearly loved by many in her life and had a profound impact on me. It was difficult to see her go.
What wasn't difficult: talking about her legacy.
Grandma Joy was one of those people you always want in your corner. She was cheerful, direct, supportive, and made the best cookies. I have more great memories with her and life lessons she taught than I have pages to write in. And that is what I want to remember.
This forces you and I to ask a question of ourselves: what is the legacy I want to leave?
For me, I have my own kids and one day they will be talking about my legacy. I have the ability to shape and influence it for them. The opportunity is now for me to impart some of the legacy Grandma Joy left to my own kids. Its through this that I am helping her legacy to live on.
It is through embracing the feelings of loss we learn to appreciate life.
What legacy are you going to leave?