One year, that’s how long my family and I have not been with my sister. And oh boy has it been the toughest year of my life. And we are entering another one. For the greater part, I have felt lost and unable to express what happened to my family and how I feel. And honestly speaking, I have refused to allow the process of healing to begin and for those who know me; they say I have closed myself off. My sister’s death did not just affect me mentally, emotionally or spiritually. It had also affected me physically. I started losing hair from my head and I lost a lot of weight. After noticing this, I absolutely had to make a change in my life. I know there are many out there in Zim that lost close family member in 2017 and all hope seems lost. I would like to share with you my steps to healing from the loss of a loved one. Healing is a process and it will not happen overnight. It will take time, but who is counting? You should take as long as you want to heal. However in time, our efforts to accept support and work through the loss will serve us well. I took a moment to reflect on the past year and here are a few things that I have learned about dealing with death during that time.
1. Everyone grieves differently.
My little sister is younger than me by three years, but the way she processed the death was completely different from mine and that of my older brother. Yet she was the only one who knew exactly what I had been through, from the time that my sister got the renal diagnosis up to when she lost her battle. I often tried to compare my situation with those of others sometimes just to measure my level of grief to gauge if I was overreacting, or if I could set a potential expiry date of when the pain I was feeling would go away. I often cried myself to sleep every single night for the whole year. I have realized that everyone processes death and grieves in a different way. Knowing this means that you do not have to second guess your thoughts, feelings and actions. This is your personal journey, and you are allowed to feel, think, say or do whatever it is that you need to heal.
2. Open up and talk about it when you are ready.
Although I appreciated the messages and phone calls from friends saying “sorry for your loss” and telling me to let them know if I needed anything, every message I received was also a stinging reminder that it had happened. I was in denial and did not want to face the fact that it had happened. I hated checking my phone only to see constant reminders of my sister’s death. I thus closed myself off from everyone I knew. I did not talk about it. I internalized all of that pain to wake up, put a plastic smile on my face and went on about my life, going through the motions and never truly processing the event. Opening up about my feelings allowed me to start the healing process. I realized that does not mean you are weak, it means you are strong enough to be honest with the world, but most importantly yourself.
3. Allow your friends to be there for you.
After the loss of my sister, I never picked up the phone and called my friends. I did not answer when they called and this went on for months. I only started responding back for the first time in weeks and aired out everything I had felt at the exact moment. It was the first time I had allowed my friends to be there for me, even if it were only sending text messages back and forth. Since then, I have slowly reconnected with my friends, and whenever I am having an issue I allow my friends to be there for me by opening up to them. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that you have got people in your life that will always have your back.
4. Make new Memories.
If we had a chance to talk to our loved ones who have departed from us, we would be surprised they would want us to move on and be happy. This is a lesson I learnt from my Grandma. So, i started attending creative shows, fashion gigs and it has made it very clear again how much I love doing creative things and all things fashion. Meeting new people meant heartwarming and enlightening conversations, new connections. Keep yourself busy by taking time to figure out what it is that you love. Set goals and build a plan to make your dreams become a reality. You are not expected to be perfect. Your struggles build your character. Your experiences make you unique. You are intricate, complicated, seasoned and beautiful. Don’t ever be ashamed of your past. Just remember that the decision to start the healing process is entirely up to you. So when you are ready, get out there and take a chance on yourself to find peace past the pain.
Happy New Year Everyone!!!!