“How to cope after losing a parent,”
I typed into Google on a rainy Monday morning. It’s interesting how the weather matches what we feel at times, most of the time. 483 days post my father’s passing, and still the question is searching for an answer to itself.
After scrolling through countless grief tips and 10-step listicles on how to mourn, the obvious was revealed:
there is no one way to cope, or to heal.
Holidays can be bittersweet after a loved one has moved on to the next life. Triggers are real around this time of year (trigger: things that remind you of someone who has passed away).
There’s no manual that can provide a step-by-step guide on what to do with the weight of these new, unfamiliar feelings that sit so heavily on your shoulders, and your thoughts. Nor is there an exact time frame on how long it’s going to take.
We each have our own, unique healing experience. And one thing is for certain:
it’s okay to feel what you feel, exactly how you feel it.
As black women especially, we tend to conceal our burdens quite beautifully: smile on lips, light in eyes, strength in walk to disguise the struggle beneath. We push aside our hurts in hopes to not disturb another’s happiness.
What’s becoming clearer and clearer is emotions—all of them— are healthy, emotions are human. Sadness is just as justified as joy. Pain paves the way to peace. Dark is dark because of light. It’s acknowledging this balance that has helped me on my healing journey.
I’m still learning how to heal, and I probably always will be. What I can offer to you are the things I try to keep in mind on the daily:
22 Things to Remember When Healing from the Loss of a Loved One
- Don’t deny your feelings: feel your feels.
- Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for feeling sad.
- Do your best not to shut people out.
- Journal your thoughts.
- Celebrate those who are here.
- Appreciate your memories + present moments.
- Write down your memories to keep them alive.
- Share your memories + stories with family.
- Remember your loved one at their best.
- Be present with yourself + with those who are here.
- Give yourself time to cry if you need it.
- But not too much time, get back to your present blessings.
- Be patient with yourself.
- Be kind to you too.
- Find ways to express: writing, creating, cooking, painting, singing, dancing, whatever you feel.
- Talk to friends when you feel down, and up.
- Remember that they’re still a part of you, talk to them.
- Do something they used to enjoy every now and then.
- Maintain a positive outlook on life.
- Capture moments then get back to being in the moment.
- Continue to pursue your goals + passions, that’s what they’d want after all.
- Remember your loved one would want you to feel just that, loved.
You can take this list with you and add your own by downloading this free printable guide: 22 Things to Remember on Your Healing Journey.
Just like physical cuts need time to heal, so do our inner, deeper wounds. Neither can be rushed. All we can do is go through the (e)motions, and trust the process along the way.
I encourage you to make your own list of healing techniques if you’ve experienced loss. Feel free to share your coping methods in the comments below. 💛