What To Say To A Four-Year-Old When Their Grandparent Dies What the Loss of a Loved One Taught Me

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What the Loss of a Loved One Taught Me

Death has always been a difficult subject, and we all dread that day when we lose a loved one. That day came to me six years ago when I got the call that my best friend had died in a car accident the night before. I was devastated, but through this experience, I was able to learn some very important life lessons. These lessons, although difficult, helped shape me into the person I am today.

1) The five stages of grief are very, very real.

Everyone talks about the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. It is talked about so much that it seems more like myth than fact. I am here to tell you, however, that they are all very, very real, and very unpredictable.

I didn’t think the five stages of grief were real until I got that heartbreaking call. By then I learned that it’s not just a thing that happens; they last an incredibly long time the further down the list you go.

When I first heard the news, I was in complete denial. For a few days, I convinced myself that it was just a cruel joke. That he would come into my room and lay on my bed and tell me it was just a big lie. After I realized that no, this was not a sick joke, I alternated between bargaining and anger for three weeks, then through depression for months. Then more anger. Depression. For almost a whole year until I finally accepted that no matter how sad or angry I got, he wasn’t coming back. I’ll have to figure out how to handle this one way or another.

2) You become closer to family than you thought possible.

It was my best friend’s mother who called me. We cried together on the phone for hours, begging God (or some higher power) that it wasn’t true. At the funeral, I cried with so many people. Some I knew, some I didn’t. I thought that after the funeral we would all go our separate ways, living our own lives and sometimes going through Facebook, but not really talking.

The complete opposite happened. His mom and I are closer than we’ve ever been. It is the same with his siblings and even some of his friends. We’re all friends on Facebook, and most of us talk about what’s going on in our lives at least once a month. I became a bigger part of the family than ever before. Even though we have moved on and live independent lives, the bond we formed from this loss will never be broken.

3) You still think about them, even years later.

Living without your loved one does get a little easier with time, but no matter how long it’s been, you’ll always think about them. Acceptance doesn’t mean you miss them any less. Don’t worry, though, it’s completely normal to do this.

I talked about my best friend and what I had to go through, but my mom was in a similar situation. Her father died when she was seventeen, and when I was younger I used to catch her crying. When I asked her what was wrong, she always said the same thing: “I’m thinking about my dad.” She would dream about him and wake up thinking he was still alive. The same thing happened with my dad when both my grandparents died. Same with me and my best friend. From time to time when we get together, we talk about everyone. Dad shares memories of when he was a teenager and my mom always tells me the story of driving a tractor with her dad when she was five years old. Now that I’m old enough, I tell them about the late nights I used to sneak out of the house to go on adventures (mostly to Sonic).

Even when a loved one is gone, they never really go away. You still have the memories you made together. Although it may be difficult to remember at first, it will eventually bring you comfort.

4) Support networks are everywhere.

As I went through the five stages of grief, especially anger and depression, I felt like I had no one to talk to. I didn’t know how to talk to my parents at the time, my peers had their own coping mechanisms, and my best friend… well… he was gone. Only months later I discovered a number of websites and businesses specifically suited to dealing with grief.

Of course, you can always go to your chosen religious building. Some people find solace in religion, but I was not one of those people. So, I looked up “How to deal with loss” on the internet, and so many things came up. From articles on how to deal with grief to phone numbers and websites specifically about how to deal with loss. There are so many different options to help, you just need to look for it. Personally, I chose to go with a sharing group for a while, as well as personal therapy and about a dozen forums. Letting go of my emotions not only made me feel better, but listening to other people let me know I wasn’t alone.

Loss is a huge part of growing up, whether it’s a parent, close relative or friend. Eventually, we will lose someone before we expect it. You are not alone and good lifestyle habits are the best way to deal with it. Seeking guidance or counseling is also a very helpful tool. No matter what you do, remember the memories and smile.

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