How Do You Get Over The Death Of A Loved One? (It Begins Before They Die)

How Do You Get Over The Death Of A Loved One? (It Begins Before They Die)

Getting over the death of a loved one begins even before they die

How do you get over the death of a loved one - it begins before they dieI was fortunate enough to be told that my Dad had around two to three weeks left. That may seem like a strange perspective on the death of your father, but this article explains why I feel that way.

Possibly the best advice I can give anyone about ‘how do you get over the death of a loved one,’ is to spend as much time with them before they die. This may seem like a strange thing to say, but I’m convinced it has helped me with my Father’s death. I was fortunate enough to spend a significant amount of time with him in his last few days and weeks. The time I spent with him and what we talked together provides me with comfort in my grieving process.

But even more important for me is that I told him that I love him. Up to three weeks before he was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, I’d never told him this. And as far as I know he’d never said it to me either. It was so important that my Dad knew how much I loved him and visa versa. This is what comforts me now whenever I think about him. I know he knew I loved him dearly. So please make sure you tell your loved ones just how much you love them, before it’s too late.

What is it like to lose a parent?

Tell your loved ones how much you love them, even if you’re not sure whether or not they can hear you. My dad was in a coma like state and on the edge of death. He’d not said a word for hours. I was on the phone to my sister-in-law and asked her to put the phone to his ear so I could tell him I love him one more time. She was amazed at his response. He whispered ever so quietly back to me, ‘I love you too.’ These were his last words to anyone. They meant so much!

Nothing can really prepare you for the emotions you feel when you lose someone as close as one of your parents. Even now I’d do anything to get my Dad back. There’s probably even an element of ‘grief relief‘ from writing this article.

I have tears in my eyes as I write this, and I’m miss him terribly.

Why an article on how do you get over the death of a loved one on a ‘What to do in life blog?’

I thought for a while about where to take this blog next. What should the next article be about? After all my blog is about what to do in life. It’s about finding your life’s purpose. So what has death and getting over loved ones got to do with that?

Hopefully, as you read on, this will become clearer to you. If it doesn’t or if my message isn’t clear enough, please pop a comment below and tell me, thank you.

In the end, this article on ‘how do you get over the death of a loved one’ links to the underlying message behind this blog. The message that I’m referring to is part of a running theme for my blog, which was covered in my first article about what to do in life.

In that article I talked about even if you hate you job, you should enjoy each day. You are blessed to have been borne in the first place. Being human is very special. So every day should be cherished.

Practice gratitude

Practicing gratitude will go a long way to life improvement and to you finding your purpose in life.

For me telling my Dad I love him. Being able to spend those last few days with him and cherishing every moment. Focusing on my gratitude for what he has done for me as a son. All of these things, which is what I do with my life in general now, go towards making each day a wonderful day.

That’s not to say I don’t have tears. That’s not to say I don’t get very upset on occasion. But when I do remember him, there are no regrets. My memories are of all the lovely things about him. I appreciate the time I had with him. I’m grateful that I was fortunate enough to have spent all that time with him, before he was gone.

But there’s a problem…

There is a problem with this article. I want the message in this article to be read by those who’ve not only lost their loved ones, but also for those who haven’t.

But my objective of getting my underlying message across to people who still have both parents is my challenge. The majority of those that will read this article have probably already lost a parent to death.

Let me explain…

To get over the death of a loved one begins before they’ve died

As you’ve already seen, I began this article by explaining how fortunate I feel that I was given a few weeks before my Dad died. In fact I was the first to be told by the doctor that his condition was terminal. I remember that sinking feeling in my heart. The tears began to flow as the doctor explained about his brain tumor.

The doctor carefully and sympathetically explained to me how my Dad was too weak to go through chemotherapy. She also told me that the brain tumor was too entwined with his brain to operate. There are tears in my eyes now as I write these words. I guess it’s still a bit raw.

Appreciating the time you have with a loved one

But the reason I see the few weeks notice period of his death as a blessing is because it could have been worse. He could have dropped down dead from a heart attack, without the possibility of saying good bye and without being able to tell him I love him.

Many people are left in this situation, and not just from the loss of their parents. A close friend of my wife lost her husband to an aneurysm. In fact he collapsed right in front of her and died pretty much immediately. She had no chance to say her good byes.

That’s why I feel fortunate, as I had plenty of time to spend nearly every day with my father in those last few days. I was working at the time and I lived with a three hour journey away. This proved a bit of a challenge, but I made it work.

I have my older brother to thank for this, as it was him who suggested we gave our Dad 24-7 bedside cover. Which we did. Even the nurses in the hospital hadn’t seen such dedication by a family. They said this was a rare and lovely sight to see.

My big brother and I would do the night shift starting at around 6pm, right through to around 10-11am. Then my younger brother would take over with his wife, to cover the day time.

Making the most of the time you have, helps with the grieving process

Once your loved ones have died, there’s no going back. Death is final. Use the time whilst they are still here to tell them how much you love them. Use the time when they are still alive to spend as much time as you can with them.

As I lived so far away, but even if I didn’t, the likelihood of spending that amount of time with my Dad when he was fit and well was unlikely to have happened. It’s not something you normally do. Most of us take it for granted that they will be there when we next want to see them.

But as I’ve now found out, this is no longer the case. It’s only after they’re gone that you realise how final death is. Once they’re dead, there’s no going back!

So having the opportunity to spend so much time with him was an absolute privilege. It gave me time to reminisce with him. To spend time doing cross words until the brain tumor slowed his mind down too much. I spent hours talking to him. But when he got tired, he’d listen to my brother and me chatting and reminiscing too. I think he really appreciated this time together, whilst he was in hospital in his final days.

Sharing your grief with others can help you to get over a loved one

Not long after his death I was on a course, where a part of this course was to present your work progress.

When I first arrived, I got speaking with one of the organisers and presenters. I mentioned to him about my father’s death and what we’d done as a family. I explained it to him as I am telling you.

He took great strength in what I told him and he asked me if I’d tell the same story to the whole room. It made him think about his relationship with his dad. His father wasn’t in any medical difficulty, but it made him think about wanting to spend more time with his Dad whilst he was still around. But also he now wanted to tell his Dad how much he loved him too.

My comments about my Father touched him deeply, and as a result he wanted me to share this with the others in the room too.

I did of course do this, but it did lead to tears in front of quite a few people. I had many come to me afterwards to thank me for sharing. They appreciated me showing my vulnerability too.

I hope the same message is as well received in the written form.

Other thoughts about getting over a loved one include the five or seven stages of grief. I thought it might help to explain these in this article too.

What are the five stages of grief?

Everyone is different and each person reacts in a different way when a loved one dies.

The time it takes to grieve for each person is different too. But on average it takes around two years to get over the death of a loved one. But there are normally between five and seven stages of the grieving process.

So what are the five stages of grief?

1. Shock

The first stage of the grieving process is absolute shock or not actually believing it has happened. I know how numb I was when I first found out my Dad had actually died.

Shock provides an emotional protection from you being overwhelmed all at once. It’s your brains way of managing your emotions and feelings.

2. Denial or disbelief

Denial is actually similar to disbelief that your loved one has died.  I remember my Mum being in total dis-belief. She was convinced that he’d be coming home again. She thought her husband of nearly 60 years would be home once more. I had to explain to her what had happened and why he wouldn’t be coming home.

Funnily enough, my Mum reacted in a similar way when I told her I had cancer. She argued with me, telling me that I didn’t have cancer. I had to convince her that I did. This is obviously her way of dealing with very difficult situations.

3. Pain and guilt

It’s not long before the shock wears off, but it is usually replaced with pain. I can remember this pain, and the best advice I can give, is to not hide it. Don’t use drugs or alcohol to numb the feelings of your grieving pain.

Feeling these emotions are all a part of getting through the grieving process.

Some will have guilty feelings too. Some suffer from having remorse over things they didn’t do or didn’t say.

This is a big element of the grieving process and is one of the main messages of this article.

I was fortunate to have time to say I love my Dad. I had time to talk to him about many things. So for me there was no guilt at all. Of course I wish I had more time, but I was very grateful for the special time I had with him.

4. Anger and bargaining

There are some people who experience anger. Some blame others for the loss of their loved one. My wife’s sister blamed her for her Dad’s death. She even told my wife at their Dads funeral that she had taken her father away from her.

Lashing out with others is common too. This can come as a result of the stresses of going through grief, plus also from being tired from the lack of sleep.

The bargaining side of grief is when a person tries to bring the person back.

Some people who are going through the grieving process may try to bargain with a higher power. They try to bargain with how good they will be, if only they’ll bring the person they loved back.

5. Depression

There are many that will suffer from depression as a result of losing a loved one.

After the death of a loved one, most people spend time reflecting. They may even isolate themselves from friends or family too.

It’s at this stage in the grieving process that the person begins to realise the real gravity of what’s just happened. I know for me it would suddenly hit me. I would suddenly think, ‘I’ve not got a Dad any more.’

It’s important to recognise the symptoms of depression. It’s at this stage you probably need more support and help from your closest friends and family.

Don’t isolate yourself, but instead be open to others. Spend time reflecting on the lost loved one, but try thinking about the good times. Think about how much you love them.

Stages six and seven of the grieving process

Always remember, that whilst going through grief is not a pleasant experience, it’s a necessary process for your body and mind to go through.

The grieving process is a way of clearing out all those emotions. But take solace in the fact that it does get better. You never stop loving and you never stop missing the person you’ve lost. But the bouts of deep emotions get further apart. You begin to accept and to cope with the loss.

It’s at this stage in the grieving process that the last two stages are recognised. Two more stages in the grieving process include the ‘life adjustment stage‘ and the ‘acceptance and hope stage.’ It’s in these last two stages that you get to the other side of the grieving process. It’s when you learn to accept and deal with the reality of what happened.

What are the side effects of losing a loved one?

When a loved one dies, you are left in a wash of emotions. This whole process can be totally overwhelming. It can be frightening for some and it can leave you with deep internal emotional scars.

But one of the side effects I suffered when I lost my Dad, was the feeling of getting closer to the edge of life’s conveyor belt. Losing a parent has the side effect of making you feel more vulnerable. It creates a sense of your own mortality.

This sense of mortality can be scary for some. For me it was another reminder of how short life actually is. Having been told only a couple of years prior that I potentially only have months to live, this whole experience brought those emotions rushing back once more.

There’s a sense of being brought closer to your own death when those above you die. But it’s important to reconcile these emotions. It’s vital to keep a perspective on life and death. But it’s also crucial that you speak about your feelings and emotions. Never bottle your feelings, as this is when depression can set in.

I’m fortunate that I have a loving and caring wife to confide in. She know’s what its like to lose both parents, so she totally understands. If you don’t have this close support, look for it in your friends or other family. If you don’t have that, then seek professional help.

I hope you enjoyed this article about how do you get over the death of a loved one

I’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your life and what you’re doing in the comments below. Please also share your thoughts and ideas on this article too. Please share my article with others too, as I’m keen for those who haven’t yet lost a close loved one to read the article too.

If this article hasn’t answered all of your questions. If you have more questions about your life and your life’s purpose (or specifically about how do you get over the death of a loved one), please comment below with your questions.

There will also be many more articles about what to do in life for you to read and learn about this subject.

Have fun and live life to the full. Practice gratitude and show love.