It has been a year since my daughter passed away. This has been the most challenging year of my life. I have experienced the loss of close family before with the passing of my father and sister; these events pale in comparison with the loss of a child. While I am far from an expert on the grieving process, I thought I would share what I have learned so far.
- You cannot skip or shortcut the grieving process. The emotions must come out. For me, it is a matter of controlling the rate of emotional release so I can still function. This past year, I have experienced birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries. Each event stirred up a flurry of emotions. I have learned planning for these events is a good idea. For example, we had relatives visit us on my daughter’s birthday. One of our activities was painting a memory rock and placing it in the garden.
- Everyone processes grief differently. Some people find support in groups like Grief Share. Some people seek professional help. My method for processing grief is to write. For this past year, most of my writing energy has been dedicated to journaling my journey of dealing with grief. There must be an outlet for processing grief; it is essential to find one that works.
- Read books about grief. There is plenty of helpful material to help you understand and process the overwhelming emotions you will confront. I found a daily devotional book on grieving to be the most beneficial.
- Embrace music and photographs. My daughter and I shared a lot of songs. I have a playlist dedicated to my daughter. There are some fantastic songs like “Hold On to Memories” by Disturbed and “Scars in Heaven” by Casting Crowns. Some music is still too overwhelming for me to hear. I anticipate this will change over time. For photography, I collected every photo I could find and stored it online. I managed to pull all of my daughters’ pictures from her social media accounts. Wading through pictures is a great way to process memories and grief.
- Continuously ask yourself, what would my loved one want me to do? I have used this question many times when sorting out how to memorialize my daughter. This question also helps with the grieving process. For example, would my daughter want me to stop enjoying life because she is gone? The answer is no. This question can help center your thought process and enable appropriate responses.
- Create a bucket of memories. I have a collection of beautiful memories of time with my daughter. These are my memories; nobody can take them away. These memories are my connection with my daughter and how we shared life. I have found positive memories to be an invaluable asset for helping me put one foot in front of the other and get through some difficult days
Grieving the loss of a loved one is an all-consuming process dealt with daily. My father died 37 years ago, and I still think about him most days. There was a time when I was afraid I would forget my father. I know now, forgetting him will never happen. Old photographs come into play here for helping remember those to died long ago. Now that my daughter has been gone for a year, I have the same feeling of distance welling up inside me. I know I will never forget her; I think this feeling of separation is part of the grieving process. A better way to look at this is that I am further separated from my daughter, but one day close to seeing her again in heaven.
I know this blog entry is but a step in the grieving process. Perhaps it will help you; I know it has helped me to write it.
Make the most of this day!