While loss questions your survival, resilience makes you survive. The past year has taught us one thing — There is no ‘right way’ to grieve

Grief. The pain you feel when something or someone you love is no longer there. We’ve all known some form of grief last year. We’ve lost family, friends, work, relationships, and some of us have even moved cities, all at a time when there was also the parallel collective trauma of the pandemic. Added to that — we have been physically distanced from each other, forced to stay in isolation and uncertainty. But we do have technology to thank for being able to stay emotionally connected. We always berate the use of gadgets, but our phones, laptops, and TVs became our means to stay afloat in a year where optimism was drowning. We have grieved, and thrived.

Truth be told, loss is confusing. It questions your survival, and puts all your abilities to test. But guess what, simultaneously, the most extraordinary thing also happens — your resilience comes through. Hell, even Bob Marley said, “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” Did you think you’d come this far? More than a year of some of the most difficult times you might have possibly had and yet, here you are, feeling hopeful and optimistic about the next year. Isn’t it beautiful how you find a way out when you least expect to?

There’s still this nagging that something is still missing. Technology might have bridged distances, but it can never replace human experiences. I’ve put together a few pointers to help you find your way, but before you read them, I want you to know that everyone has their own way and pace of processing loss. There is no ‘right way’ to grieve. So be gentle with yourself through this, and if any of these suggestions speak to you, I would have done my job.

  • Allow yourself to feel

Denial, anger, or sadness, all of these feelings are completely normal and welcome. It’s hard enough to lose someone or something that is dear to you, being physically distanced from relationships you’ve lost is extremely traumatic. There is no closure, and it’s confusing when you can’t be present for the loss, but only hear about it. Write these feelings down if you have to, and give them the space they deserve.

  • Talk, vent, and express

If it’s safe and possible, meet your family and friends who you feel comfortable with, and talk to them about how you feel. Ask them about how they feel, and see what resonates. Hearing someone else’s feelings helps validate one’s own because they mirror your pain. If it’s a break up you’re struggling with, call up your friends and vent your heart out. Trust me, its cathartic.

  • Take a break

If you’re grieving and have found a strange comfort in going to work, being very ‘productive’ or ‘busy’ to the point it feels numb, stop. You’re not allowing yourself to feel, or your body to be up to speed with what just happened. Take some time off of work and put aside your chores for a bit, so that you allow yourself time to cope. And if you’re struggling to show up, reach out to a friend and tell them how you’re doing.

  • Trust your resilience, and the goodness of others

It might be the last thing on your mind, but trust yourself to come out of this. With time, there will be better days, more chances, and more people you meet that remind you that life moves on, and you will be okay. You will be the living example.

  • Plan a ritual

If you’ve been sitting at a distance from grief and are actually feeling shocked, it’s probably because you haven’t done something to acknowledge what’s happened. Planning a ritual, like a Zoom meeting, or acknowledging your loss by a simple gesture like planting a tree for remembrance, lighting a special candle, or even singing a song helps in feeling like you gave your loss the space it deserves.