What I’ve Learned About
Grieving After Seven Years

Hey friends!

Today I want to talk about something kind of heavy: grief.

What I've Learned About Grieving After Seven Years-www.roseyrebecca.com

This upcoming Sunday will mark seven years since my father passed away and, believe it or not, I’m still learning new things about what it means to grieve.

I was 24 years old when I lost my father and to say I was unprepared is an understatement.  Before I lost my father I had plenty of ideas about what it might be like to lose a loved one. The reality was much different because the truth is nothing can ever really prepare you for what it’s like to suffer such a monumental loss.

So, as the anniversary of my father’s death approaches, I thought I’d write about some of the things that I’ve learned about grieving over the past seven years. I hope that it will provide some comfort if you’ve recently (or even not-so-recently) lost a loved one and some understanding if someone you know is grieving and you just don’t know what to do to help.

Disclaimer: I am not a licensed medical professional. This post is written from my own personal experience of losing my father in 2011. Please seek professional help if you feel you cannot manage the passing of a loved one on your own.

What I’ve Learned About Grieving After Seven Years

Losing a loved one feels impossible

Impossible. That’s really the best way to describe it. The night my father died and during the months that followed my mind had trouble grasping the fact that he was gone. Even now, after seven years, I  sometimes catch myself starting to pick up the phone to call him like it’s totally normal. I think the initial shock is your mind’s defense mechanism because it’s really too much to handle all at once. Making the tiniest decisions about anything at all felt too difficult and I felt like I was in a constant daze. It’s important to note, however, that it won’t feel impossible forever. In the beginning, I couldn’t imagine a time when I wouldn’t feel so horrible, but that time came and it will for you, too.

You can’t schedule certain times to grieve

Scheduling set times to concentrate on grieving won’t quicken the process or make it easier because the truth is, grief hits you at the weirdest times whether you want it to or not.  Pushing it away because it isn’t the right time will only make it worse. Similarly, trying to avoid it completely won’t work either.

The best way out is always through

This was one of the worst realizations I came to when I first lost my father: there is no way around it, you just need to grieve. You can’t fight it. One night a few months after my father died I was standing in the kitchen trying to pick a mug for tea when I saw one of his favorites on the shelf. The next thing I knew I was sobbing on the floor. Instead of trying to stop it I just went with it and that’s been my method for the past seven years.  Sometimes it’s a song that will set me off or a certain smell, but whenever it happens I just let it happen and that’s truly the only way to make it through.

There is no time limit

A lot of times people will expect that after a few months you’ll just be “over it.” This is obviously not the case, as it’s been seven years for me and I’m not “over it.” Don’t try to “should” yourself into thinking it’s been however many days, months, years and things should be better now- that type of thinking will only make you feel worse. There are no shoulds. Each person grieves differently and for different lengths of time.

People won’t know what to say and that’s OK

I had a lot of people reach out to me to tell me they could relate to my loss because they had lost their pet or that they knew someone who had lost someone.  At first, it bothered me that someone would compare the loss of a dog to my losing my father but I realized they were only trying to help, in their own way. People often don’t know what to say and a lot of times it’s more awkward for them to talk about your loss than it is for you. In the years that followed my father’s death, I remember having to preface a lot of conversations with “I’m OK, but my father passed away in 2011.”  The truth is there is no one size fits all reaction when someone tells you such devastating news and really the best thing you can do for someone who is grieving is to just be with them for whatever they need.

You might not have the stereotypical reactions to holidays and anniversaries

As I began to grieve I was surprised by the fact that certain things that I thought would bother me like father’s day and anniversaries really didn’t affect me at all.  On the other hand, things that I never thought would affect me brought me to tears. Grieving is a very personal thing so don’t be taken aback if you don’t have the “normal” reactions because its a very personal experience and it will feel different for everyone.

It’s OK and normal to experience emotions other than sadness

At first, I felt guilty whenever I would laugh or have a happy experience right after my father died, but the truth is, life goes on and you don’t just stop having happy experiences just because you’ve experienced a traumatic event. It’s unrealistic to believe that you can never feel happy or laugh at a joke again and there’s no reason to feel guilty for experiencing those common, human emotions.

It doesn’t get easier, you just find ways of coping with your new normal

This is always the hardest piece of advice I give to people when they’re first coping having lost a loved one: it never gets easier. Thinking about my father’s death is just as hard now as it was when it first happened. I don’t miss him any less and I’m just as sad. Over time, however, the amount of time I’ve spent thinking about all of these sad emotions has lessened and I’ve come to accept life without him as my new normal.

All that said…

Losing a loved one is hard and one of the most important lessons I learned when I lost my father is that it’s OK to feel bad for a while. The emotions you experience when grieving are often overwhelming and confusing, especially when it seems like life is just continuing around you and you can’t keep up.  As I mentioned, however, it will not feel this horrible forever. Over time you establish ways to cope and although it never really gets easier, somehow it doesn’t seem as impossible to deal with anymore.

I hope that this post has helped you feel less alone if you have recently lost a loved one or shed some light on what it’s like to grieve even if you’ve never lost someone close to you.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you’d like to chat. Although I’m not a medical professional, my inbox is always open if you want to talk to someone who can relate to the pain. When I lost my father, I found it extremely comforting to spend time with people who had also experienced the pain of losing a loved one. It’s an unfortunate club to be in, but knowing you’re not alone makes all the difference.

As always, thanks for reading!

Connect With Me!

Email: rebecca@roseyrebecca.com

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The Problem With The
Way We Think We Look

Hey there! Happy Monday!

Today I want to talk about a topic that’s been on my mind a lot lately: negative self-image and critical self-talk.

The Problem With The Way We Think We Look-www.roseyrebecca.com

Last week, a friend and I were talking about how we’ve grown more comfortable with our bodies and appearance as we’ve gotten older. I mentioned how in my early twenties I cared a lot about makeup and even wanted to make it part of my career.  I very rarely wear makeup anymore and some days I leave the house without even brushing my hair. Over the years I’ve become less concerned with what people think of my physical appearance.

Still, later that day the same friend posted a picture of me in her Instagram story and my immediate reaction was to criticize the way my stomach poked out and how messy my hair looked. I almost messaged her to complain but stopped myself and chose to respond with something positive instead. I thought about our earlier conversation and how my reaction to the photo was the exact opposite of what we had talked about.

The fact is, we are very often way too hard on ourselves. Most of the time when I observe something negative about myself in the mirror or in a photo, it’s amplified way more in my head than it is in real life. Most people never notice or care about the tiny things we see wrong with our own appearance.

I can’t count how many times I’ve had conversations with friends where they criticize the way they look in some way, and almost 100 percent of those times I see absolutely nothing wrong with their appearance.  They’ll point out a pimple on their face or a hole in their sweater that I never would have noticed if they hadn’t called attention to it.

The Problem With The Way We Think We Look- www.roseyrebecca.com

Over the years I’ve become gradually more confident in my appearance, but there was a time not that long ago when I looked in the mirror and felt ugly and didn’t believe anyone who told me otherwise.  I was bullied in middle school and high school and at 31 years old I’m still not over that completely.  I had horrible acne and there was a group of boys who liked to call me “buttface.” It’s funny how something so silly can have such a big impact on someone’s life, but as an impressionable teenager, it was earth-shattering. It caused my self-esteem to plummet and I’ve had a really hard building it back up.

Sometimes while posing for photos, I’ll purposely make a silly face to ensure that even if it is a “bad” picture, people will think, “well, she’s making a face so she meant for it to be bad.” I have friends who are only ok with their photo being taken if it’s from a certain angle to highlight their “good” side.  We’ll have someone take a photo of us then immediately check it to make sure we look ok, only to have the photographer take more photos if we’re not satisfied with our appearance in the first or even second shot. I have several friends who aren’t comfortable having their picture taken at all because they can’t stand the way they look in them.

The Problem With The Way We Think We Look- www.roseyrebecca.com

I don’t know a single woman who is 100 percent confident in her appearance, whether it’s because she feels fat or thinks her nose is crooked or is embarrassed by a birthmark on her face. I know this issue affects men too, but as women, we are constantly bombarded with makeup and hair ads on TV and in magazines. I often feel like I’m in the minority when I go out without makeup on. I’ve heard many women express guilt for not having the energy to wear more than foundation and mascara some days.  I stopped wearing makeup for a few reasons, but mostly because I detest the idea that women need to paint their faces to look/feel acceptable in public.

I know that this is a societal problem that isn’t going to be solved with one little blog post but it’s bothered me for quite some time and I felt the need to talk about it. I think that we can start to help the issue by being a little kinder with the stories we tell ourselves about the way we look. Going back to the story from the beginning of this post, I could have easily messaged my friend and said, “OMG I look so horrible in that photo- take it down!” but I chose not to. I chose to not believe the negative self-talk.  I chose to look at the situation logically and realized it’s never as bad as we make it out to be in our heads. Another person might have looked at the same photo and thought,” WOW! She looks great!”  I’ll never know and it shouldn’t matter. Because the only thing that truly matters is the way YOU feel about you. That’s what I’m going to continue to work on and tell myself. And you should, too!

How do you combat negative self-talk about your appearance? Let me know in the comments!

As always, thanks for reading!

Connect With Me!

Email: rebecca@roseyrebecca.com

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