“Grief is in two parts. The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life.” – Anne Roiphe
Losing a loved one is never easy. Losing a loved one suddenly – with no warning, or forethought, or notice – is even more devastating. The grief that follows is deep, unyielding, and all-encompassing. We have to not only deal with the pain of losing a loved one, but also the unexpected agony of a life cut short, before the appointed time. The combination is almost too difficult for us to bear.
As a personal injury attorney, I’ve seen countless families mourn and grieve over loved ones that were here one minute and gone the next – in a car accident, or a mishap on the job site, or some other unpredictable and senseless tragedy. I’ll be honest – even after decades of helping families with these tragedies, witnessing an outpouring of grief never gets any easier. It is always difficult, even more so for the family left behind.
If you have recently lost a loved one in a sudden and tragic way, without any sign of what was to come, you are more than likely gripped by deep, passionate pain and suffering. Dealing with that grief in a safe and healthy manner is one of the hardest things we as humans will ever be called to do, but it can be done with the right help and the right mindset.
Here are pieces of wisdom I have gathered over the years from my own experiences with helping my clients cope with grief. My sincerest wish is that these words will prove to be helpful in some small way, and provide a glimpse of hope after the worst of the pain subsides.
NO MAN IS AN ISLAND
The first thing you must realize as a grieving person is that no person should be alone. John Donne wrote hundreds of years ago that “No man is an island.” That phrase is as true now as it was then.
One of the most important things you can have behind you, helping you move forward, is a strong support system comprised of family and friends, of people who care about you. It’s possible that these people didn’t know the deceased; that’s okay, as long as they know you. But often, you’ll find that the best support system is comprised of those who did know the deceased – and are going through the same grief that you are.
Don’t isolate yourself. Doing so never eases the pain – it only makes the pain worse.
COMMUNICATION BUILDS BRIDGES
I have encountered many family members who, understandably, do not want to talk about the person who they just lost. They don’t want to talk about the pain, the struggle, and the emotions they’re feeling. Even in courtroom during a trial, they are often hesitant to open up, because opening up hurts.
I strongly encourage you to talk to whoever will listen. An outpouring of grief to a trusted listener – or even a kind stranger – can do wonders to relieve the burden that has built up inside of you. Communicate with those around you, and confide in a friend, a co-worker, another family member, a religious figure, or anyone else who will lend an ear. Grief counselors will tell you that opening up about your feelings and emotions is one of the fastest ways to begin to heal, and a part of the healing process everyone must go through following loss.
Communication builds bridges to a better tomorrow, one conversation at a time. Live one day at a time.