By Vamika Jackson
On April 6, 2018, I saw my grandmother take her last breath. I had seen death before but not from someone close to me. My grandmother and I had a very complicated relationship, but I did not love her any less. The death of my grandmother sent me through a whirlwind of mental events. My emotions were up and down to the point that I crashed and burned. There were times when I slipped into a very dark place. I could go through the details of my good and dark moments, but instead of dwelling on my grieving highs and lows, I instead continue to focus on improving my well-being while grieving.
No one can tell you how to grieve or how long you should grieve. I believe having a support system helps the grieving process, but the pain is still there. Grief brings unwanted changes. Some of us do what we can to stand firm and handle death by the horns, but at that moment, we fail to realize that the person we lost; we will never see them again. Their memories live on in photographs, videos, and in our minds. Grief is not only death. It can be a loss of a job, ending a relationship, or ending a friendship. Grieving takes time, and it is a lifetime transition to an unforeseen road. You will go through ups and downs, but you become resilient and use your down moments as your strengths.
Losing someone who is no longer a part of your life, can be mentally challenging. It’s okay to show emotion. It’s okay to cry. Be honest with yourself and how you feel; you have that human right, the free will to grief because it is part of the healing process. You are transitioning. Change can be a scary place because of the unknown. Change can be unpredictable; the same goes for grief. Please, allow yourself to grieve, then slowly find ways to better your well-being.
There will be ups and downs while grieving. It will feel like an emotional roller coaster, but please remember with support, you can get back on track. Self-care can be one of the forgotten processes while grieving. It is important to stay positive and implement self-care into your daily routine while grieving. What I am saying to you may be easier said than done, but it can be done. It is a process. You have the power to determine what works best for your mental well-being.
I am transitioning through my grief. I am looking for ways to do things out of the ordinary. For years, I have been saying, "I am going to start practicing a healthy lifestyle." As of today, I have started taking the baby steps to implement my plan. I am in the process of making my OWN. My next steps are to be more physically active (i.e. exercise). I am juicing and cooking more healthy meals at home. This is teaching me to be less wasteful and learn how to be grateful for what I already have. I write my thoughts in my journal without judgment. I believe in doing simple things to uplift my spirits. I am also in a new position in my life that is fun and challenging.
You are not alone! If you feel like you are, please seek help, find someone to talk to whom you feel comfortable with. Challenges will come with life and mistakes will happen. Do not judge yourself for being human! When you wake up to see another day; you have already won many of the battles that life brings. Do something out of the ordinary; treat yourself well! You must mentally visualize yourself in a place where you would like your life to be as if it was happening today. Please, take action. There is a quote from Walt Disney that I read daily: “If you can dream it, you can do it!”
Mental Health Soldiers, do not be afraid to go through the processes of grief. Find ways that will work best for you and remember to treat yourself well. Self-care is always a prioiriaty. Love who you are, explore, and welcome the unforeseen road. Cherish the memories of those who are no longer with us by continuing to live among the living. You are not alone!