Sophie Labat's Story
Not everything is supposed to be long-lasting. Sometimes people come into your life to show you what is right and what is wrong, to show you who you can be, to teach you to love yourself, to make you feel better for a little while, or to be just someone to walk with and spill your heart to. Not everyone is going to stay forever, and we still have to keep on going and thank them for what they have given us.
To experience death is an incredibly individual, unique experience. Everyone feels and handles it differently but does anyone really understand its concept? Whilst it is arguably the only certain concept in our life, it is one that we know least about. I don't believe there is any way to deal with grief, but I do believe there are ways to cope with it. At age 20 and within the space of 5 years, I have experienced far too many deaths. 2013 was my first, the suicide of a dear friend. This seemed to set fire to many more. The loss of my grandad, the near loss of my mum, the suicide of another friend during my first year of uni and the sudden death of another friend during my second. Each time I question everything, gosh it feels as though my heart has shattered. The truth is, everyone is going to feel this way at some point in their life. We can't run away from death and we can't let the death of someone consume us. We must recognise death as a concept of life; death is the hardest concept to understand, I don't want to understand it and I don't want to ever be at the mercy of it again, but I know I will and when I do I will remember these five things.
1. Let yourself feel: I am not one of these people who can shut down emotions and act like everything is okay. I have to process my emotions thoroughly through crying or complete silence. It is so important to let yourself experience the emotions you feel as suppression will only lead to emergence later down the line. Don't ever let others tell you to stop feeling. Whilst they may think this is for the best, believe me, it isn't. When you are first faced with death, most of us are in shock, however, notice after a while that is when our emotions kick in. This is our coping mechanism and we should never try and block this. Dealing with loss can evoke overwhelming feelings and my gosh they will consume you, sometimes when we least expect it. You are allowed to feel this way but how you act on those feelings is a different story.
2. Talk about them: Initially, this will seem near impossible, especially to do so in a positive way. We begin questioning why they had to go, why them, why so young, why is it always the best people? These thoughts will never bring them back, they will only start to erode the positive qualities of their life. Instead, talk about their life, their qualities, their passions and interests. You will end up smiling for you will reminisce how much of life they lived, how much they taught you, how much love you felt from their presence. Talk about them with others who knew them and laugh about your memories as these are invaluable elements that can never be taken from you, even when that person has gone.
3. Look after yourself: When you're grieving, it can be hard to remember to take care of yourself. You're dealing with pain and stress and a myriad of emotions that you may not have experienced before. Accept that you are hurting, but don't allow yourself to stop caring for your physical body. Get as much rest as you possibly can. Eat food that will make you feel energised and healthy. Spend time with yourself, away from causes of stress, do anything that will leave you feeling more relaxed. Being in an unhealthy, exhausted physical state will make your emotional pain much more magnified.
4. Rebuild fresh values: One of the things we can take away from a loss is a reminder to value our own lives. Yes, death reminds us that life is short but death also reminds us that life is a gift, one that can be taken away in a split second. Life is not infinite and times of grief should also be times of celebration - for the lives of others, for the lives we're still living. It might seem selfish or unfair to celebrate life when someone has recently lost a life, but it's not. It's most likely exactly what they would have wanted you to do.
5. Live a legacy: Take all the emotions you are feeling and put them into everything you do and do it for them. Don't try and fill the hole they have left, you never will, for they were there own person. Instead, look at what they have left and carry these qualities through within your life. Live life for them.