We've all heard all the platitudes - I know because I regularly offer them up myself...
"You don't get over it, but you do get through it."
"Trust that good memories will ease the pain of your loss."
"It was a life well-lived."
"She/He leaves a wonderful legacy."
"May the love of family and friends carry you through this difficult time."
"You're strong, you'll get through this."
Though caring and compassionate, these all fall short once the pomp and circumstance have ended and you are left alone with a hole in your heart and grief that weighs more than you do.
Yes, in many situations you can be "prepared" with a Financial Plan, a Power of Attorney, a Trust Fund, and any number of other 'instruments' designed to make the loss "easier". But frankly, they only deal with the loss itself, not the painful aftermath that follows.
Make no mistake - without them, the loss is much harder to manage. But sadly, there are no instruments to ease the pain of the lonely bed, the empty chair, the phone call that will go unanswered - not to mention the sudden lack of purpose and direction that you often experience.
You also learn that there's a reason they call them "waves" of grief: the sorrow tends to come in recurring intervals - sometimes strong enough to knock you down, other times so gently that it sneaks up on you when you least expect it. Sometimes you drown, other times you take a deep breath and walk away.
So, at the end of the day, it's You and Your Grief. No one can quite prepare you for how it plays out - and even if they did, the experience changes by the day, the hour, the moment. Preparation would all be for naught anyway.
But don't give up hope. In fact, the most important thing is NOT to try to be prepared for this part of the process, but rather to give yourself all the time and space possible to fully feel the feelings and consciously acknowledge the pain.
Believe it or not, there will come a time when you do get through it, cherishing all the lasting memories and taking solace in the legacy of a life well-lived - all buoyed by the love of family and friends and your own resilience.
But that comes when it comes. Don't rush it.
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