My Journey of Loss

by Stefania Enriquez about a year ago in grief

Here's my story about loss and some tips I wish I would've heard before.

My Journey of Loss
My beautiful grandma holding marshmallow me

There is no real secret to it, and everyone deals with it in a different way. But at the end of the day, everyone has or will have to go through this heartbreaking journey. I still am. It will almost be a year since my grandma had passed away. Not a day goes by in which she doesn't cross my mind. June 22nd, two days before my birthday too. What I'm going to say is obviously not universal. Again, these tips may or may not work, it all depends on the individual. However, if I'm being honest, I wish I knew this during the first few days of feeling the true feeling of loss.

The moment it happens is the hardest part.

I was at the hospital. It had been a month of going in and out, morning to midnight. My dad had spent everyday sleeping in the waiting room, only going home to shower and casually picking up some snacks. He'd lost a lot of weight. I knew from the minute he had stepped out of the room that my grandma was gone. He had all of his belongings with him and we began to head out. I was numb. No one was saying a single word. But my brother and I just knew.

This brings me to my first point. When it hits you, it hits you hard. It's like you know you lost something you can't ever get back and your chest begins to feel like it's compressing. At this moment, it is very important to take deep breaths. I know people think "that's what everyone says," but it's true. This is a life-changing moment and you cannot afford to get weak (mentally and physically). This can prevent an anxiety attack or worse.

I first broke down when I got home. Just realizing that she won't come back to her room was the worst part. Seeing my family breaking down was just as bad. My mom and dad both told me something I'll never forget. "You need to be strong for us. We need you right now." For the next couple of days I found out what this had meant. In simple terms, stop crying in front of your parents and stop being weak because then we're going to fall apart.

Thinking back, this is bullshit.

I suffered a lot keeping my feelings locked up, or at least trying to hide them. There were a lot of days where I pushed back my tears in for an entire day and just cried myself to sleep at night. I wanted to be strong for my parents, so this meant not looking out for myself. This is such a terrible feeling and I know that a lot of people do the same. That's why I ask, please never feel like you have to hide your feelings, especially in a moment like this. You will only hurt yourself and you will lack the support that you can get.

The few days before the funeral, I wasn't eating. I didn't go out and for my birthday, I stayed cooped up in bed. I didn't feel like doing anything for my birthday, which is normal, but I definitely should've been eating. I felt weak, had constant headaches and I was very pale. At a time like this, it is difficult to eat and leave your house. But even the smallest meals or even snacks can help you gain some energy, because now is when you'll mostly need it.

Fresh air can also come a long way.

I am a terrible public speaker. But when my dad had told me he wanted me to speak at the funeral, I gladly said yes. I was still numb. The feeling in my chest was sometimes worse on certain days, but now I became more aware of my surroundings. I knew this was my chance at a proper goodbye and a way for me to finally express my feelings in words, so I took it. I said a lot and it took a while for me to get myself to physically say the words. However, in between pauses and tears, it was freeing.

Now for the cemetery.

Obviously, the first impression is not the greatest for first timers. This is from personal experience. No one likes to see people grieving, crying, in shock and saying goodbye to their loved one. But that's how I see it now. A way to say goodbye, visit, and be with my grandma. It's comforting and it's calming for the soul. I once read a quote that said, "the purest air is found in cemeteries." It's a way to make peace for yourself and the ones you loved.

To tie this off, it's understandable to be fragile for some time. No one copes the same way. Take all the time you need. But, you have to think about it this way. Your loved one won't want to see you in pain. I find thinking about times of laughter with my grandma helps a lot, and keeps me going. She would always tell me the same story about how I attempted to climb my Christmas tree as a toddler and she couldn't stop me in time, which only resulted in me bringing the whole tree down.

The pain never truly goes away, but you do get a lot stronger. There's a ton of resources out there that can help. Things like support groups and therapy are always available. If you find yourself missing someone, it's more than okay to cry, if anything, it's recommended. Looking at old videos or pictures are always nice to relive a moment, and even talking to someone who has felt the pain can come a long way.

It gets better.

Stefania Enriquez
Stefania Enriquez
Read next: Allie on the Sand
Stefania Enriquez
See all posts by Stefania Enriquez