Thursday, January 7, 2016

How To Survive the Loss of A Parent (or other close family)

Yesterday, January 6, 2016, marks twelve years since my step-brother passed away. You can read the story here. In that story I elaborate and explain my maternal grandmother and fathers deaths as well.
When my grandmother died, I was a wreck. I was working part time and going to college full time. I started skipping classes and asking for more time at work. For reasons I don't truly understand, I made the decision to drop out of college. That was probably the biggest mistake I've ever made. I eventually started working full time at a job I hated, and was no longer pursuing my education. As a result, I was miserable. I sank even lower into a depression I've been suffering with since I was a child.

When my dad died, I felt even worse. But, I was a few years older, and I remembered how badly I handled my grandmothers death and didn't want to repeat those mistakes. At this point I was still at the job I hated, full time, and living with my sister. I had just started college at the end of August. When my dad passed, I missed a few classes. I took a few days to grieve and help my mother prepare the memorial service. But I went back to school. I explained to my teachers why I missed class and it was fine. I completed the semester in December and got all of the credits I was working towards. Then I transferred to a new school and until financial troubles prevented me from affording it, I was working on a degree in graphic design.

I hope you can learn from my mistakes, and also use some of the tools I used when dealing with my fathers death.

1. Don't quit. You have to keep doing whatever you're doing (unless you absolutely hate it) because quitting won't help you. When I quit school in 2010 I felt miserable. But deciding to continue school and work in 2013 felt amazing. I felt like my life was spiraling out of control in 2010 and quitting school made it worse. When I continued with school in 2013 I felt more grounded.

2. Find something you love to do. When my dad died I immersed myself into twitter and fandom life. It may seem weird, that a 22 year old was engrossed in the lives of teenage boys, but it helped. I love their music and am still a fan, but I have de-tangled myself from the fandom quite a bit. But having people to talk to and things to focus on was a big help.

3. Music. I don't know if I need to elaborate much on this. It might not even work for you. But, because music is so much a part of my life, immersing myself in it helped so much. This is a little bit similar to the last one, because the fandom I was part of was for the band 5 Seconds of Summer, but honestly it was more than just their music that helped me cope. Their song Wherever You Are was on replay a lot for the first couple weeks after my dad died. Also, The Fault In Our Stars by Troye Sivan (which my tattoo is based on) was also on constant replay until I realized I didn't want to cry anymore. Now it's still hard to listen to that song without crying.

4. Have someone to talk to. This one is also a bit similar to the second one for me, because one of the people I talked to and who helped me a lot was a girl I met on twitter through the fandom. We don't talk much anymore, but I am grateful I had her to talk to. With my struggles with depression I've noticed I don't have many friends. During the end of that year I came to the realization that I don't have many friends, just family and people I used to talk to in school. It was a hard realization and I'm working on changing that.

So I have three tips for dealing with loss and one mistake I hope you'll never have to deal with making. While one of the tips is something that may not work for everyone, I really feel like the other two are something anyone can use. I would prefer if no one needed these tips, but unfortunately life happens. I hope that if you do have to deal with a loss you'll find a way to get through it, maybe using one or more of my tips.

I do want to say, if you're currently dealing with something, reach out to me. I will be glad to talk to you and help you through.

If you have any other tips, or if you liked mine, let me know in the comments below! Thanks so much for reading!

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