Written by Riley Robert, WLLC 2015-2016
A few weeks previous we attended a seminar addressing infant loss and how families are learning to cope with it. I, being a 19 year old student, have obviously not yet experienced this, and hope I never have to. However, I have experienced traumatic loss, so I like to think I understand at least a portion of the perspective that anyone going through a loss like this would have. I like to think that over this past year I’ve been coping. Sort’ve.
A large portion of the seminar was focused on ways people find to cope. This included scrapbooking to commemorate their lost loved ones, but I felt like it also touched on things we do for ourselves. These are things that really make ourselves feel better. As much as some people dislike the idea of getting tattoos to commemorate loved ones, I have a tattoo on my shoulder that was inspired by two people that were very close to me that passed away. I didn’t get their name or initials, I got an ohm sign with the circle of life around it. As strange as it sounds, I can’t find the word choice to do justice for what this tattoo means to me, and I think getting it helped me accept reality and move forward. Having said this, I don’t think commemoration is the only way to cope with loss. I think a large part of coping is getting out of bed, even when it physically hurts, and making yourself do something to lift you up. Drink coffee on the porch in the morning. Read a good book. Go for a walk on a nice day. Watch the sunset. Coping is doing things for yourself so it hurts less.
A concluding portion of the seminar addressed things that people said that were and were not helpful in their time of grieving, I found this interesting, as I had experienced some similar feelings. The knee jerk reaction when someone gets hurt or something bad happens is to say “it will be okay,” I say it. You say it. We all say it. But I found that being on the other side of the “it will be okay” really just makes you want to scream. This is usually because nothing about the situation is okay or even remotely fair. I did find, rethinking my past, that I appreciated it most when people just told me they were there for me, or that it was okay to be at a low point. Because it is. I read something the other day, and it said
“[People] are obsessed with the idea of happiness as if it’s a constant state of being. Happiness comes in moments. You don’t ‘achieve’ happiness. You experience it along with every other emotion on the spectrum. If you spend your life chasing this constructed idea of happiness you will never even be remotely content. Work on being whole and feeling everything while increasing the happy moments. Stop trying to be a ‘happy person.’ Just be a person.”
It’s okay to be experiencing a low point, which is exactly what working on being whole and feeling everything is. It’s okay to just be a person that’s had some shitty stuff happen to them. We all are going to have shitty stuff happen to us at some point in our lives. So everyone should not work on being a “happy person,” they should work on being just a person. Because coping, even just sort’ve, eventually increases those happy moments. And honestly, no one is ever as happy as they seem, so everyone is in a constant state of coping. Go do something for yourself. It’ll make you feel better, or at least help you cope. Sort’ve.