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When Is It My Turn To Grieve?

By Everth Hernandez-Ventura

This happened to me

It was the last Friday of April at around 10 pm when I heard the terrible news that my uncle had passed away. All I could think about at that very moment was that it was my job to provide comfort for my entire family. I spent the entire night as their shoulder to cry on, somewhere where they could let it all out. My only priority was making sure that they were okay which meant suppressing any emotions that I felt. Around the second week of May, I traveled with my family to Texas to attend my uncle’s funeral. In the entire week that I was there, I slept about 20 hours total because I tasked myself with being a pillar of support for them. I wanted my grandma to have someone to comfort her in this tough moment because losing a son is something that I would never wish on any parent. 

Unfortunately, I had to deal with the stress of finals week. I had to push through the sleep deprivation to complete any missing assignments that I had due. Eventually, the day of the funeral arrived, and once again, I never found the opportunity to let out all the emotions of pain and sadness that had been building up for weeks. The following Tuesday, I flew back home and I arrived home at around 2 a.m. Unfortunately for me, I had two finals to take on the very same day. Both physically and mentally drained, I pushed through and finished my finals for that day and the ones that followed after. 

I wrapped up finals week feeling more exhausted than I had ever felt in my entire life. Throughout all of this, I still hadn’t found the time to grieve. That following Sunday, I played a soccer match to try and clear my head, and unfortunately, losing that game was the final straw that broke me. I broke down that day, and every single emotion that I hadn’t been able to process finally came out on the pitch. Throughout all of this, I ended up pushing people away that cared for me. I was eventually able to find the closure that I needed, but I always wondered whether I had made the right decision by denying myself the opportunity to grieve to help others do it first.

My story is not unique, here’s the problem

The issue that I want to address is one that everyone experiences at some point in their lives: dealing with grief. Almost everyone in the world will have to deal with the loss of a loved one whether they want to or not. Grief causes people to emotionally withdraw from the world around them. Grief sometimes leads individuals to believe that they can’t or shouldn’t go anymore. It can lead to feelings of blame, anger, denial, and even numbness (2). Grief can sometimes lead to the exhaustion of the human body, which in turn causes the immune system to become weaker, leading to potential illnesses (2).  Ten to twenty percent of individuals who experience grief fall into this cycle called Complicated Grief which refers to a period of grief that doesn’t ever come to an end(1). However, that pain doesn’t always last forever because there are ways to lessen the pain. Allowing yourself to simply grieve is one step towards lessening the pain. At the end of the day, if you can’t find the strength to push past this on your own, there is no shame in seeking help from others.

Here is a non-profit working to solve the problem

Fortunately, there are non-profit organizations whose goal is to help those who are in the process of grief.  One that I have chosen to highlight is The Compassionate Friends non-profit organization for grief.  Their goal is to help provide high levels of comfort, hope, and support to anyone who is experiencing or has experienced the death of a loved one (3). They help those who have unfortunately had to deal with the loss of a child, sibling, or grandchild (3).

Their way of helping others deal with grief is to allow those who are grieving to meet with individuals who are further down the path of grief.  These individuals who have more experience dealing with grief serve the purpose of providing insight and perspective on how they moved through their journey through grief or if they still are progressing forward (3).  They help provide 24/7 private groups where individuals can openly discuss their situation. The great thing about TCF is that it also provides to other organizations that share the same purpose as them. 

Here’s what you (the reader) can do to help, right now!

One thing that every single one of us can do is simply donate to help this great organization keep growing and reach out to more individuals who need help with this painful chapter in their lives. If you aren’t able to donate, there is always one thing that you can do that doesn’t even cost a dime: just listen and be there for someone.  When someone loses a loved one and is in a period of grief, that is when they are most vulnerable, meaning that that is the time when they need people the most to help them start the process of healing.  Help these individuals find the resources that they need to help them push through this heart-breaking moment.  If you can donate, please do so on TCF’s page.

References

  1. Grief by the numbers: Facts and statistics on grief in adults and children. The Recovery Village Drug and Alcohol Rehab. (2022, May 26). Retrieved October 2, 2022, from https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/mental-health/grief/grief-statistics/#:~:text=Grief%20Prevalence&text=About%202.5%20million%20people%20die,both%20parents%20by%20age%2015.
  2. Healthdirect Australia. (n.d.). Grief and loss. healthdirect. Retrieved October 16, 2022, from https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/grief-loss#:~:text=Grief%20can%20be%20exhausting%20and,aches%2C%20headaches%20and%20body%20aches
  3. The compassionate friends non-profit organization for grief. Compassionate Friends. (2022, September 7). Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.compassionatefriends.org/

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