Words by Isabel-Sofia Pias Diaz
Most people don’t mention how quickly you risk losing yourself when you lose someone. The slope is slippery and remorseless, one misstep and you catch yourself tripping over simple tasks and conversations. You find yourself stumbling to smile and laugh hoping that if you do this it’ll be easier; it’ll get easier. At times it does: those brief moments of joy you so easily forget you’re entitled to but, at the same time, it’s okay if it doesn’t. It’s okay if it falls through and things don’t click into place. In my opinion, the truth about grief is relentless and confusing. There are no set 5 stages you go through, no fixed pattern or order of how quickly you recover or adjust. Just a bittersweet blur of memories that at times warms your heart and at others cuts each breath. It’s not just sadness but a mix of fear, confusion, fatigue. Of loneliness. Losing someone makes you feel absent, makes the world feel like it’s left you behind. I’m writing this to remind you that these feelings are valid; these feelings won’t fade away instantly, but they do mean you loved greatly. You loved someone unconditionally and deeply. The worst thing about grief for me, is knowing that I would relive this pain a thousand times more if it meant reliving the memories of my lost loved for even just one more day.
Society shies away from discussing topics like death, from addressing it even in the simplest sense. Putting you in the position where you feel like if you cry or talk about it for just a minute the mood dampens and now, you’re alone once more. Left with the thoughts of them without you, you without them and endless spiral of hurt. Grief makes everything in you ache; a pain that lingers in your mind and bones. It doesn’t always hurt as strongly but it’s there, weighing you down and tackling you at any minute. Making everything feels so strange, so alien and out of reach. It’s easy to feel betrayed, angered even confused by it. I know I do. The pandemic makes this all the more painful. I have some tips that I’m trying to follow myself on how to deal with grief at University.
1. Rant, rant, rant. Let your feelings out and speak to those who you know will listen to you. Not everyone finds talking about it easy but if you have someone you can confide in. Let yourself talk about it, let yourself cry and laugh and recount the memories you are so lucky to have. If you know someone grieving, just listen. Don’t try solving their problems or forcing them to be distracted. Sometimes you just want someone to be there and provide comfort rather than solutions.
P.S. if you ever say, ‘you’ll move on soon enough’, ‘it was their time’ or anything along those lines I will personally end you.
2. Be patient with yourself. It’s okay to be sad and reminisce, however, try not to let it consume you. Some days will be worse than others. But remember you are entitled to having a good day, a good time. Don’t feel guilty about being kind to yourself. Don’t feel as if you need to be consumed by your sadness. Every emotion you feel in this moment is justified. Let yourself feel them. Be kind to yourself.
3. It’s okay to say no. Even though the pandemic has limited social events and activities, it is sometimes hard to say no to your friends or flat mates or whoever invites you to do something. However, don’t feel pressured to be social. It’s okay to sit things out; to watch your favourite show or read your favourite book. Don’t feel as if you have to hide your pain, it’s a part of what makes you unique. Everything experienced in life, no matter how shitty, makes us who we are. Take time to be with yourself for a bit.
The same goes in reverse. Reach out if you want to, hang out with friends if that helps you ease into reality. You don’t have to do things alone but remember there is no rush or pressure. In these moments, you’re in charge.
4. Get creative. Take some time to paint, to write, to listen to music and sing whatever the hell you want. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Sometimes it’s fun to do something that feels productive but isn’t necessarily work. Learn new hobbies, or the lyrics to the song that’s been on your mind or watch the behind the scenes of your favourite movies. Take some time to even write to your loved one. To write even when you’re not necessarily sad. Don’t be scared to go crazy with some paint!
5. Talk to a professional. There is nothing wrong with seeking professional help. At times talking to friends/family wears thin and painting doesn’t help. The University can try help you learn to live with this hurt. It isn’t easy trust me I know. I wish things were different and that you weren’t feeling this way… that you weren’t feeling lost and alone. Just know, no matter what happens you aren’t alone even if it feels like it, there are people, from loved ones to professionals, that want to help. Let them.
Plus, we’re paying a shit tonne of money might as well use the services that the University offers...right? Get that money’s worth. The Student Well Being centre has drop in sessions but for something as heavy as grief. you can self-refer. I’ll leave the link below. There’s no pressure to do this though but it’s still an option if you ever need it.
No one can tell you how you’re supposed to feel right now. No one can tell you what you’re supposed to do or how it’s going to be. That’s what’s scary. The uncertainty. Just know, that whoever you lost... as heart breaking and life shaking it is, they would want you to take a minute to smile. To live the life that you deserve.
One day you will, maybe not today or tomorrow, but one day. For now, just getting by is more than enough.