Apr 28, 2016, 10:09AM

How Do You Handle Grief?

Any way you can. 

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While going through the contacts list of my phone, it occurred to me that I still had Granddad’s number. He passed away in January.

Last week I was organizing my closet when I noticed a Frank Sinatra CD. He’d overheard me talking about discovering Sinatra’s music for the first time and arrived the next day with a CD. I never had the chance to listen to it. The CD went back onto the shelf, along with the other dusty remnants that occupied the space. Looking at it made me feel emotional, and I wasn’t sure how to deal with that. How are you supposed to handle grief? I’ve exhausted the methods that usually work, like eating unhealthy amounts of processed food or using money that I don’t have to fill the void with material possessions, but nothing has worked.

Everybody deals with death differently. It’s healthy and necessary to take time to yourself and go through your emotional baggage. It’s okay to have a good cry, or take a mental health day and recuperate. Surround yourself with friends and family who care about you and can empathize. But it’s easier to give that kind of advice than it is to apply it. My strategy for dealing with complex emotions is to dish out a pair of finger guns and deflect those feelings with terrible jokes. I don’t understand my inability to comprehend the grieving process.

I’ve come to terms with Granddad’s death. I’ve moved past the unhealthy thoughts of, “I wish I had the cancer” or “I wish I’d gone to visit more.” I’ve worked up the courage to sit in the exact spot he used to sit on the couch. But with these small milestones come the larger hurdles. I wince when I see family members who still tag him on Facebook. I can’t look at pictures of us together. Going over to his house still stings.

As for moving forward, I’m at a loss. I have great support systems to utilize, but I’m not good at expressing myself. Writing helps. It’s not a replacement for therapy or talking it out, but it’s an outlet that I’m fortunate to have. I don’t know how to handle grief, but I’ll get there. I’ll start by reminding myself that it’s okay to have complicated feelings and be unsure of how to deal with them.

—Follow Emma Kidwell on Twitter: @EmmaKidwell


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