One of the most difficult things any of us will have to go through is the loss of a loved one. Losing a parent can be particularly difficult because it’s hard to imagine going through life without them. Karen Schlaegel knows this firsthand. She wrote the article “8 things I learned from watching my mother die” to give some hope and help everyone who is or will go through the same thing.
8 things I learned from watching my mom die
In 2012, Schlaegel’s mother was diagnosed with cancer. She had a successful operation that kept her cancer free for another five years. Unfortunately, in 2017, her cancer returned. Even more unfortunate, the cancer was everywhere in her, including her lungs.
She describes seeing her mother go through the end of life like something that was slow at first and then almost too fast to keep up with. Then suddenly her mother was gone. Karen had to watch her mother die.
He points out that he hasn’t always had the best relationship with his mother and wanted to try to spend this time making peace with everything. Knowing what to do and what to say at a time like this was difficult.
“I was convinced that I should be doing something, saying something, but I couldn’t think of anything that would make his final passage easier. Her relationship with my mother had always been difficult, so it also felt like the last chance to make peace with her, with us.” she wrote she.
Schlaegel explains how hard it is to see someone you care about in so much pain and go through something so terrible. That said, his experience made him realize that he is someone almost everyone will face in his life, so he wanted to share what he had learned.
1. You are alone
Schlaegel talks about how, like everything in life, there is no guide to how to handle the death of a loved one. There are no strict rules about how to mourn, how to commemorate that person’s life, nothing.
Others will try to tell you what to do based on their own experiences, but in the end, you really have to do what feels right to you. No one else can do that for you.
2. You are not alone
It can be hard to ask for help and difficult to accept, but there are people who want to give it and, let’s be honest, you really need it.
“I tend to be a control freak, proud of my independence, I’ve always been able to deal with things on my own. Suddenly I felt terribly powerless. I felt like everyone else had figured it out and I was failing miserably.”
She urges anyone going through this not to go it alone: accept help from genuine people, it will make the process of watch a loved one diebe much more bearable.
3. Crying is cathartic
Most people don’t like to cry in public, including Schlaelgel. What he discovered, however, is that physical crying can’t last forever and is actually an important part of the grieving process.
“Someone told me that it is physiologically impossible to cry continuously. I don’t remember the time, but it’s about twenty minutes after which the crying will stop automatically. That thought comforted me: the worst thing that could happen would be to cry for twenty minutes. That seemed manageable. Plus, there didn’t seem to be much I could do to stop the tears anyway.”
His advice is to let the tears roll and release that tension; it will be better for you.
4. Allow yourself to feel
No one likes to experience negative emotions, however they are still a fact of life and something you will experience. The important thing, says Schlaegel, is to allow yourself to feel them and not punish yourself for it.
Negative emotions (anger, sadness, frustration, etc.) are normal, especially when dealing with the loss of a loved one.
“Don’t judge your feelings. Let them flow through you. Fighting them will only make them stay longer. Feel them and seek to learn from them. Everything we feel can teach us a lesson.”
5. You can’t be prepared for everything.
Schlaegel had been trying to mentally prepare for her mother’s death from the moment she was diagnosed. However, no matter what she did, she couldn’t have prepared her for how she really felt during the process.
“The pain took many different forms for me. He didn’t expect any of them, and yet he had gone through various scenarios beforehand. It turned out to have been a waste of time to even try to prepare for any of it. And this applies to most things in life.”
Things will happen as they happen, you will feel how you feel, but most importantly, everything will be fine.
6. Carpe Diem
A cliché, perhaps, however, it has many merits. None of us know how or when we’re going to die, so we should get out there and live our best lives while we can.
“Death puts things into perspective in many ways. Are certain things worth getting angry or stressed about? Do I really want to hold a grudge? Is it really worth my time? Is this who I want to spend my time with? How will I feel looking back on my life when my time comes? »
Asking yourself these questions will really help you improve your day-to-day life and make your life in general more peaceful, fulfilling and fun.
7. Practice gratitude
Schlaegel recommends starting a gratitude journal. At the end of each day, he writes down at least one or two good things that happened to you that day.
“It’s not about forcing yourself to be happy all the time; it’s about changing your perspective and focusing on the “good” without denying the “bad.” It helps me not to take things for granted in daily life.”
This was something she was already doing and felt it was very helpful as she went through the stages of grief both during and after her mother’s death.
8. Resilience is key
Every time you go through hard times, it makes you stronger for the next time. You have overcome a difficult situation before, you will overcome this one and you will be more resistant to those you meet in the future.
“You can find the lesson in whatever life serves you. You can combine all of the above and be safe in the knowledge that it will be fine. I feel more resilient and trust that it will help me master other situations in the future. It does not mean that there will be no pain. But you are able to handle it and bounce back.”
There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and most importantly, there is no shame in grieving, no matter the situation. Watching a parent die is hard now and will be hard for a while, but you’ll come out the other side. Be patient and be kind to yourself.