Tonight is the start of the Jewish new year – Rosh Hashana.
The greeting that we commonly use is to wish each other a sweet, happy and healthy new year.
And although a lot of you reading this are not Jewish, I wish the same to all of you – health, happiness and success for the future.
On the new year, we focus on renewal so it may be strange that I am choosing to focus on death today.
But in the circle of life, isn’t it all about beginnings and endings, losses and new beginnings? Sometimes you need to lose something in order to gain something else (and please know that I am in no way justifying why we go through such painful losses).
I have been dealing with so many people lately who have lost loved ones that I felt that it was important to say something about it here (and somebody very kindly asked me to do it too).
I’m sure that everyone has lost somebody, and I know that some of you have had multiple losses or losses that are so painful that you can’t imagine how you are ever going to make it to the other side.
For some people, loss is not about death of a person but rather a loss of something else. It may be the loss of a job or the end of a relationship but it can even be a loss of self – a loss of hope or a loss of self belief.
Whatever loss you are experiencing, I want to give you some tips on what NOT to do:
- Don’t give yourself a time limit for your grief. You have no idea how long it will take to get over it. There is enough pressure from other people without you putting pressure on yourself. Time will look after itself.
- Don’t let people tell you what to expect based on their own experiences. Nobody experiences things the same way even the experience is identical. This is going to be your experience – deal with it your way.
- Never listen to the stories about lights at the end of tunnels, silver linings to clouds, rainbows after storms. Your rainbow will come, there will be light but when you are feeling emotional, you are allowed to feel that way and not focused on the other side.
- Don’t be ‘strong’. Most likely you are being strong for somebody else, let each person deal with their loss their own way as you are allowed to express your grief too.
- Don’t worry about any stupid advice you may get (and believe me, there will be lots of it). The only reason people say things that seem stupid to you is that they don’t know what else to say. At least they are trying to say something. Take it with a pinch of salt.
- Don’t expect your routine to always work out. You may have problems concentrating, you may take longer to get things done. It won’t last forever. Forgive yourself if you don’t get everything done everyday!
- Don’t battle on your own. If you are really not coping and are finding it difficult to function, please seek help. Don’t be afraid to say “I can’t do it on my own.”
- Don’t expect that there is a formula for mourning. Elisabeth Kubler Ross wrote about the stages of mourning – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – in her book, On Death and Dying. You will probably go through all of those stages, but you might skip some, you might have them in the wrong order, you might find yourself stuck in a certain stage. It is all alright. You are not abnormal!
Eventually in a time that is right for you, you will move on and see that light at the end of the tunnel and discover the rainbows.
This is dedicated to the amazing people who I work with every day that are braver than they know, that are an inspiration to so many people when they share their pain and make people realise that they are not alone.
Look after yourselves kindly!