Friday, November 12, 2010

Coping with Loss

This week's blog is dedicated to my grandfather Vernon Doc Sylvester Sr. who passed away on Nov 9th 2010. He an outstanding man, father, grandfather, husband, uncle and person all around. He will be laid to rest today. He will be missed.

I now feel like a certified officiando on loss because I have encountered more than I would like to admit. My grand mother died when I was eight years old, and although I was sad, I didn't feel the full extent of the impact. So when I was twenty years old and two friends of mine died three weeks apart I thought my heart and head was going to explode. I don't think I was coping with their loss, I was just in the midst of sadness and memories and just riddled with a numbing pain that just had me want to shut down. I was so angry because these two young men were so awesome, how could GOD take them? How? It was not fair. Two years later as I was getting over the loss of my friends, my cousin Vaughn was killed in a tragic car crash. I will not go into details but he had a three year old daughter at the time and his wife was pregnant. Talk about unfair. My cousins on my dad's side were my first friends and basically siblings....when Vaughn died we all mourned as a collective. We had lost a sibling, we had lost a piece of our tight link and that impact has left a big hole in my heart, only to be filled with memories of an earlier time.

This time I was going to deal with my cousin's loss and deal with it powerfully. I am a poet and I cry through words very often. I cry through my words and I realize that I am okay once I purge those words out. I have written several poem for Vaughn and i speak to him openly often, it helps me deal with the fact that he is not here but he can hear me wherever he is. Now, as my grandfather has left this earth I have yet to breakdown...and I am not sure if I am going to breakdown either. I have dealt with his death through poetry and also talking to him out loud. I am coping with his death by talking about him with my family, speaking about him to my daughter when I am feeding her and recreating him for my husband who did not have an opportunity to meet him. His body is gone, that is a fact. His smell, smile, moment of sleeping and waking and sickness is gone, but his memory and legacy lives.

How would I coach a client on loss? I would say be with your emotions. We have some people who are naturally the strong one and they feel as though they have to be the strong one by controlling their emotions. They are the ones who want to cry but do not let it get more than a lump in their throat,even when they are alone. We have our dramatic criers who cry enough for the strong one and everyone else. They cry, and cry and cry and they don't care how loud of for how long....that's what you call just being with it. The dramatic crier doesn't care about looking good or holding it together, they are crying out of pain and that pain has them let it all out. I would suggest not fighting your emotions or fighting your pain and just being in the presence of it. Be with your sadness, talk it out, get with people who share the same loss and purge it out. You should write down your feelings, talk about them, make a scrap book, put your loss into something positive that will allow you to have a beautiful memory of that person.

In the end, your loss is yours. You can lose the same person as your sisters, cousins, whomever but at the end of the day, that loss and how you cope with it is unique to you. Do not let anyone dictate how you should feel, how you should be or tell you that you're not doing it right. There is no right way. However, there is a healthy way to be with loss. If you find yourself hindered, losing touch with what's real and being a detriment to yourself by not taking care of you, then you are not coping, but hiding from coping. If you find yourself grieving excessively and none of your goals are being accomplished, then you are hiding.If your world is gloom and grief and in every conversation you have you MUST discuss this loss, then you are also not coping. If you attribute every thing in your current life with the loss of this person, then you are NOT coping.

The biggest thing to remember here is that we still have life. There is a life that we are put here to live and I am pretty sure that our loved ones will want us to keep living. We do not cease to live because our loved ones have died, but we breathe life into their memories and we allow ourselves to feel their presence, be with their legacy and honor them by doing our best. We honor them by being blissful, happy, taking charge of life and being productive. You should deal with loss in a group if you can, and just say all that needs to be said, however you MUST continue to live. You must continue to have life and do all that you would have done as though they were still here. You should never use the dead as an excuse to check out of life and a reason for you to be a does not sufficiently honor their memory. If you find yourself struggling more than you can handle, then you reach out. You find a grief group, you go to therapy, do what you need to do to be better and to get better because being riddled with gloom and grief is not healthy. It just isn't.

I write this blog with my family in mind. We will get through this and we will come out stronger. We are all connected through love and there is nothing greater than that.

In Memory of my grandfather...DANCE WITH MY FATHER

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