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Anyway, the things I've learned:
1 - The first year of acceptance is always the hardest.
2 - Good friends and supportive family are indispensable.
3 - Talking cannot be emphasized enough. NEVER stop talking about it or them.
4 - The traditional meaning of 'Being strong' is a joke. Being strong really means grieving gracefully, i.e. not fighting or running away from what you're feeling because it doesn't fit some societal norms.
5 - At some point you will be angry with the deceased. This makes other people uncomfortable, but it happens to more grievers than will ever admit it. Let yourself be angry and work through it.
6 - Grief and pain are never an excuse to hurt someone who's still alive. Casting blame for your loss and pain on someone is cruel and wicked and it never makes you feel better.
7 - The surest way to help yourself though the low points is to volunteer. Helping someone else is an instant pick-me-up that no medication can equal. The only side effect I've observed is that it can be addictive.
8 - There are no reliable guidelines for how to grieve. There are hundreds of thousands of books and lectures and pamphlets, but what it comes down to is you. You have to let yourself do what you need to do to get through it.
9 - Other people can drag you kicking and screaming through the process, but it won't get you anywhere and will just frustrate them.
10 - Funerals are for those of us left behind, not for the deceased. They give us a platform to start our grieving.
11 - Tears are not weak.
12 - Human contact is essential. Avoiding everyone doesn't make the pain easier to deal with, quite the reverse, actually; it makes it harder.
13 - Never underestimate the power of touch. Hugs, especially.
14 - Humor is important and appropriate. Granted some can be tactless, but humor should not be avoided at all costs when grieving or speaking of the deceased. If you want to see what I mean, watch the cemetery scene in Steel Magnolias.
15 - People all have a purpose in our lives. Sometimes their passing is part of that purpose. Don't shut yourself off from some work they might be doing in you because it hurts.
16 - Don't stop doing something you love because it reminds you of them and makes you sad. Keep doing it until it's a reminder of the happiness they brought your life. You might cry in the process, but the smile will come.
17 - Sometimes physical activities can help express strong emotions. I destroyed a phone book (a few pages at a time) after my cousin died. I was angrier than I have ever been in my life and by the time I had decimated that phone book, I was exhausted, but not angry anymore, just calm.
18 - It's hard, but sometimes the bravest thing you can do is ask for help.
19 - Unless you pulled the trigger, did drugs and got behind the wheel, or otherwise killed them with your own two hands, IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT. I spent years thinking that if I had just dealt with the migraine and gotten in the car with her, she wouldn't be dead. It doesn't work that way. The guy that fell asleep while he was driving the car my cousin was in did NOT kill my cousin. I know if he'd ever woken up he'd have felt it was all on him, but it was NOT his fault.
20 - Saying goodbye is very hard.
Sorry for the downer, but I've needed to write this for quite some time. Even if only one person gets one small thing from what I've written, it was worth it.
*****Quote of the Day:The tide recedes, but leaves bright seashells on the sand;
The sun goes down, but gentle warmth still lingers on the land;
The music stops and yet it echoes on in sweet refrains...
For every joy that passes, something beautiful remains.
Fair warning: This entry is likely to be somewhat depressing, so read at your own discretion. Also, I am not a psychiatrist or a psychologist. I didn't even take PSYCH 101 in college. These are my own experiences and the summary is what I learned from them.