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Turn Grief into a Gateway for Healing

The past few years have been marked by COVID-19, wars, and environmental disasters on a global scale. These global events impact us hugely at a very personal level, from loss of jobs, health, relationships, and even lives. For a long period of time, I felt that every time I scrolled through my news app, the international media articles were filled with the number of deaths from COVID-19, war, and protests. It struck me that beyond the numbers, every person that dies is connected to someone else, and the impact of their death would continue long after the person is buried. What number can truly represent that?

When a person’s death is sudden, the shock always seems stronger. When I experienced that, I struggled to comprehend and accept my loved one’s passing. I found myself thinking through my last interactions with that person, scrolling through my pictures and messages with them, and wondering how I missed any opportunities to have that one last heartfelt conversation to let them know that I cared for them. While some people say that they feel numb in response to death, everytime I received news and updates about a loved one's passing, it stopped me in my tracks. I tear up, I cry, and I grieve.

With the movement restrictions due to COVID-19, my social gatherings decreased, and if I’m honest with myself, I did not do the best job of keeping in close contact with everyone I would have previously. So I found myself harboring regret, and reviewing old memories. Processing those emotions and memories can be difficult, and that journey can look very different for each person. Here are some ways that I have found helpful in turning my grief into a gateway of healing.

  1. Give yourself time to feel and remember the one who has passed. Accept the reality of the loss and how it has impacted you. You can write a journal about the day you heard the news of the loss, create a list about what you miss about the deceased, or talk through your memories with someone else who knew the deceased.

  2. Process the painful emotions. Anger, sadness, and guilt are commonly associated with loss. Name these emotions, observe how they affect you, make space and accept them as part of your experience. You can express your emotions using art, which different colors representing different emotions. You can also write a song, or search for a song with lyrics that represent the different emotions you feel.

  3. Adjust to life without the deceased. It can be difficult to navigate through the world that has changed, and so it can be helpful to see what new skills you can develop to cope with the changes. Write a list of things that your loved one used to do for you, take time to appreciate their place in your life, and learn how to do the same things while thinking about your loved one.

  4. Find a way to remember the deceased person while moving forward with life. This is a quote I find helpful: “Grief is a passage, not a place to stay. It’s not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith. It’s the price of love” - unknown. You can put a picture in your wallet, with memorable quotes or advice the person gave you regarding how to tackle challenges and obstacles to move forward.

  5. Engage with the present. Life is fleeting, and death can be so unpredictable. How are you valuing the relationships that you do have, the loved ones that are still in your life?

Loss is part of life, and something we all face. When walking through the gateway of healing, on some days I take a few steps forward towards brighter days, and one other days, I find myself taking a few steps back into the shadow of grief. If you ever find yourself in a state of grief, seeking support from those around you can be helpful, or create space in your life for professional therapy and counseling to walk through the season of grief, especially if you feel like your grief has significantly reduced your quality of life. Remember, you are not alone.


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