Navigating Loss: Childhood Memories and Lessons on Grief

What? No.

How did they die?

They were so young.

Do they know when the services are?

An unfortunate yet familiar conversation I heard growing up as a child. I was often in the room and spaces with adults, and hearing about life and dying was not something my family hid from me. Growing up, kids spent their weekends attending various outings, while I often spent Saturdays/Sundays attending funerals. One loss that left an imprint in my mind was the loss of a close family friend, who passed away suddenly in a pool. At that age, I wondered why their family didn’t weep when we visited or when I was at home. My mom told me, “Everyone has their way of grieving.”

As I got older, I realized that death and loss are a natural part of life. It’s something that we all will face at some point in our lives. However, it doesn’t make it any less painful or easier to deal with. Losing someone we love, especially when they are young, feels unfair and unjust. It’s a reminder that life is fragile and unpredictable.

What is grief? According to the American Psychological Association (APA), “Grief is the anguish experienced after significant loss, usually the death of a beloved person.” 

Let me be clear though—what you’re reading is about losing humans. Grief shows up in any area where we have lost something, someone, or an experience. It does not only show up with a loved one.

Grief and loss are complex personal experiences that can be challenging to deal with and manage. There are often thoughts about a timeframe for the grieving process. There isn’t a timeframe, timeline, or way to control the grief journey. Grief is unpredictable and shows up differently and at different times in a person’s life. No human grieves the same way.

The process of grief and loss is not linear. A great way to think of grief is to visualize it as a ping-pong ball that has gone wild. The most powerful tool you must utilize when grieving is learning to embrace the chaotic journey of grief.

Take a moment to reflect on someone you’ve lost. Can you resonate with the tools below that help when coping with grief? If not, take some time to review and reflect on the coping strategies below.

  1. Allow yourself to grieve: Grief is a natural response. Understand grief as a way for your body to acknowledge the relationship’s impact on you. When you permit yourself to grieve, it will be essential to recognize your thoughts and emotions regarding the loss and be present and aware.
  2. Take care of your physical health: Grief can weigh heavy on your body. Sleep well, exercise regularly, and be mindful of your food intake while grieving.
  3. Ask for support: Although isolating may feel like a good idea, the best way to grieve can often be amongst others, as long as they respect your boundaries by not rushing your grieving process.
  4. Give yourself time: Grief is a process that takes time, and everyone’s journey is unique. Don’t rush the process or feel pressured to move on quickly. Give yourself the grace to take the time to grieve and heal.

It is expected that everyone experiences grief differently, and there is no perfect way to grieve. Be patient and compassionate with yourself during this time and know that with time, you will find healing and a way to move forward.