Using Grief as a Transformational Tool by Tripat Sahi
Recently, I've lost someone very near and dear to me. I've never experienced this type of loss since I could understand the concept of death. I've never felt the heavy emotions, confusion, and complete loss of words I recently experienced. As a Medical Degree holder, it is easy to intellectualize the process of grief. It is as follows: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The whirlwind of emotions summed up in 5 simple words; each seems to undermine the depth and heaviness of emotions you experience at each stage. No one talks about the small piece of yourself you've lost, like a part of you is missing, taken away from you without your permission. If I had a dollar for every time I've been told, "time will heal, time will make the pain go away," I'd be rich. The time it takes you to go through these stages varies per person. My advice… don't rush it; allow the space for each step to take up room in your mind completely. Allow your mind and body to feel the depth of the emotional rollercoaster you've been forced on. Allowing yourself to feel and process your emotions is definitely the most challenging part. So many of us run to our own vices to help cope and escape the unwanted emotions we've been held captive to feel. We run to distractions that keep our minds busy, all while pushing the feelings of grief to the side to deal with at a later time.
I believe time will make the pain more bearable, but time may not fully heal this wound. This wound runs so deep that it has altered my genetic makeup; I can feel it. I've learned to lean on my family and friends more through this process, to let them in on my inner battle, which has made the most significant difference in healing. This news will shock you like nothing has shook you before, so I can't say this will be easy because it won't. It'll destroy you, the sleepless nights, not being able to eat, forgetting all forms of hygiene, wanting to push away every person close to you, and crying nonstop for hours, days, weeks, or months. Life, as you know it will only be seen as before and after them. You'll now be faced with a fork in the road of life.
I realized although it sounded harsh, tough love is exactly what I needed. The direction I chose would alter the rest of my life. It'll go in one of these two directions, either you'll forever prolong this grieving process, spiral in a downhill trajectory in life, or you'll have a fire burning inside you of wanting/ demanding more for your life. You need to realize that you are the only person who can pull yourself out of the downhill spiral; it doesn't matter how long you've been in the spiral. You can change your mind and decide on a better future for yourself whenever you like. Your loved ones can be there to support you through this whole process, but you need to have that fire burning inside first.
I want to share my experience on how I've been piecing myself back into a new version of me. A new version, you ask? Yes, new because the version of me that existed while this individual was alive is no longer here; something inside has changed, there's no going back to who I was.
How do you pick yourself up? Where do you even begin the process of healing? A great place to start is bringing the focus back on you. Don't worry; you are not doing a disservice to your loved one that has passed by bringing your attention back to you. They will be a part of your life every day, even though it might not be in the physical. Start with the smallest and simplest human basic needs. Focus on getting enough sleep, eating enough, the quality of food you consume, drinking enough water, and taking regular showers. Only focus on these basics until you have a good handle on them; start adding movement in your new daily routine such as dancing, working out, going on walks, yoga, to allow your body's emotional stagnancy to move.
The next part is where you redefine yourself. This is the part of grieving where you get to rebuild yourself, prune out old habits that didn't serve you and add new ones that will add value to your life. Use the loss as a way to reinvent yourself to be a better version of yourself that you've always wanted but maybe somehow got stuck in the comfortability of your old life. For me, the next add-on has been to create a new routine of healthy habits that I think will benefit me in filling the gaping hole that has been left inside with more self-love. These recent changes have included more "me" time, being more selfish with my time, meditating right when I wake up every morning, journaling when I feel like I'm drowning in my emotions, and working on my passion project (@MedicineArt).
During this process, there will still be days where you won't want to do any of it; you'll want to go back to hiding in your cocoon of sorrow. Allow yourself that space to do so; don't be judgemental towards your grieving process. Take each day on as a new project to do and be better. The emotions will come in waves, and one day you'll have refined your process or your daily philosophy so much that you'll be riding those same waves in no time instead of drowning in them. As I said earlier, some wounds time simply may not heal; you'll have to learn how to cope with it better.
The lessons, memories and love will never be forgotten. You'll carry that with you every day till eventually, you'll become someone else's life before and after.