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Mental Health

What to Do When You Lose a Loved One

When it comes to dealing with grief, there are a lot of misconceptions in society regarding the ‘correct’ way to mourn and reconcile one’s losses. These prominent ideas have long plagued our world, which is primarily due to emotional stigmatization. In reality, bereavement lacks a destination. It is painful, and it is strenuous, and it is endless. But there is hope.

My father passed away when I was six years old. It took me a long time to realize what that really meant, in part due to my age – the ripples that cascade from loss extend far beyond any perceivable boundary. My family and I found ourselves grappling with what had previously seemed unimaginable. Fortunately, I was able to discover and experience healing, helpful resources. These didn’t take away the grief, but they did make it easier to understand and progress. The following methods have allowed me to live and confront my bereavement simultaneously.

1. Mourn

I know this strategy sounds generalized. However, the most crucial discernment between grief and mourning is that the latter stems from expression. Mourning consists of how you take your emotions and convey them to the outside world. Because I frequently bottled my emotions after my dad died, writing was the most therapeutic form of expression I could latch onto. I journaled, wrote letters to him, and even penned poetry. It was simpler than having to formulate everything I was feeling in the sometimes lacking means of conversation. Bottom line: if you’re expressing yourself healthily, pursue it.

2. Find a Community

When I was younger, I was the only child in my school who had lost a parent. I wouldn’t say that I felt isolated, per se; it was more like I just felt alone in my experience. I was lucky that way. I became even more fortunate when I attended Comfort Zone Camp for the first time at eight years old. As a nonprofit bereavement camp, they allow kids just like me to live in a ‘bubble’ for a weekend. For the first time, I was entirely surrounded by people who knew exactly what I was going through. If you’ve lost someone close to you, I would recommend their programs without hesitation.

If camps aren’t for you, stay local and go to your school’s guidance counselor. They should already be aware of your situation and be able to let you know if there’s a group of students with similar experiences at your school. At the end of the day, it’s all about knowing that you are far from alone. In fact, Community hospices are also a great option; most hospitals offer free counseling and support groups. 1 in 5 people will lose a loved one by the age of 18 according to Children’s Grief Awareness Day.

Losing my father is the hardest experience I’ve ever endured, and I continue to deal with it every passing day. The journey of allowing myself to openly communicate my grief has shaped me as a person in the most definitive sense. When you lose a loved one, it is crucial for you to know that you are not alone. I urge you to channel your emotions in their vast intensity into the most effective and beneficial ways possible. For more information, check out Hello Grief’s list of resources.

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Olivia is a 16-year-old writer. At any given time, it's likely that she can be found drinking tea and running her own platform, Lithium Magazine.

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