The grief of losing a loved one is, without a doubt, the most painful thing any human can experience. Whether you’ve lost the love of your life due to death or the end of a relationship, the intensity of your pain and suffering might even leave you with a broken heart.
People cope with a loss differently but according to the American Heart Association, some may suffer from broken heart syndrome when the grief is too much to bear. But losing a loved one may also be a positive teaching moment and an enlightening process. Though you can never be ready for this, there may be a message and insights you can gain from such a tragedy.
A loss can actually teach you so much about living and here are some things you learn by losing a loved one.
“Those we love never go away, even when they can’t be physically present. They walk beside us. Still loved, and still missed.” – Anonymous
Here Are 10 Things You Learn By Losing A Loved One
1. You realize that life is indeed too short
You’ve probably heard this wise old saying many times before. When people say, “Life is too short,” it means that you should not waste your time here on earth pursuing and pouring your energy into meaningless things. Instead, you must act every single day to build a life that’s positive, productive, and progressive.
While you are consumed by tasks, chores, and responsibilities, it is so easy to forget about finding meaning in what you do. So, you forgo pursuits that enrich your life. You set aside dreams, plans, and goals because you think you can always do those some other time, and right now you have to fulfill your obligations.
This mentality, however, causes people to stay stuck in jobs they hate or in relationships they begrudge. Even if you win the lottery and gain the freedom to live your life in luxury, you will still have obligations to fulfill. So, if you make your obligation an excuse that prevents you from chasing your dreams, then you’re still wasting away your life. You’re only losing your chance to live your life to the fullest when you keep doing the things you don’t really care for.
2. Your life goes on
The pain of losing a loved one might feel like it will never end. Sometimes, you want the world to stop or the clock to turn back time because you can’t seem to go on with life without your significant other.
But you’ll slowly realize that life goes on and the world continues to turn even if you are still deep in your grief. Accepting your new situation comes with time and people go down the recovery path at different paces.
Eventually, you’ll start moving again and you’ll get back to your routines. You’ll pick up the pieces and put the order back in your life. In the midst of your grief, you will still experience positive emotions. You’ll see hope gradually returning.
3. You learn about how strong you really are
It’s hard to pick yourself up from the ground if losing a loved one feels like your world came crumbling down. Somehow, however, you still wake up every day and realize that you’re made of stronger stuff you didn’t know you had.
Losing a loved one may help you find your inner strength, power, and perseverance. While there might still be a dark cloud hovering, your grief can send you on a journey to self-discovery and growth. You may relearn things about yourself that you might have lost sight of while being in a relationship with someone you lost.
You also regain a sense of control over your life because you focus on how to make yourself better. Experts at Stanford said that people who emerge stronger through their grief have a positive coping strategy for losing a loved one. But if you keep focusing on your sadness, worries, and negative feelings, you may be at risk of developing depression six months after the loss.
Those who feel depressed may end up doing something reckless. Suppressing these feelings of sadness may also lead to destructive behaviors, which is why experts say it’s always good to confide in someone when you’re grieving.
4. You make small changes in your life
You go through an existential crisis when you lose a loved one. When you start wondering how you matter in this world, you realize you need to pursue your passion and follow your heart. Because the loss is a reminder that your time is limited, you decide to make small changes to make your life more fulfilling.
With baby steps, you become proactive with your choices and begin to develop goals that will make your life more rewarding.
For instance, perhaps you try waking up one hour earlier, or changing your hairstyle, or traveling a new route on your way to work. Making small changes will slowly remove you from the state of shock the loss has caused. You take it one day at a time because a big change can be overwhelming.
5. You create more memories with the people who matter in your life
The only thing that remains when someone in your life is gone are the memories. Therefore, you learn the importance of creating memories while you still have many people who matter in your life. In time, it’s these memories that can rejuvenate your life. After grieving, you can sit back and laugh as you recall all the great experiences you’ve had with your loved one.
You treasure the memories of the time you shared together because they grow into the stories you share with your children, grandchildren, other family members, and friends. Those cherished moments, however, won’t happen if you don’t try to open up, bond, and share your life with other people.
6. You strengthen your relationships with those who are still with you
So, as you make those memories, you try to improve the relationship you have with people who are still in your life. Losing a loved one should help you see your relationships with others in their true light. So now, you find new value in those relationships.
You become more invested in giving time and attention to the people in your life. You make more plans to go on trips, dine out, or hang out. Aside from doing more activities together, you also slow down and relish every moment you have with these people. You don’t allow distractions to take time away from spending with your loved ones.
Even if you’re just sitting in the living room and watching a Netflix movie together, you keep your gadgets away and stay in the present. You want to make this simple moment meaningful by enjoying every bit of it with the people you love.
7. You have a new appreciation for love
Sure, some people turn bitter or angry about losing a loved one. In fact, grief can become a mental illness if a person’s coping skill and ability to process his feelings are complex or misguided, as per the Scientific American.
However, grieving can also be a tool that teaches you to appreciate love. You start loving and treating the people in your life the right way because you now know how painful it would be if you lose them. Additionally, you don’t let a day pass without letting them know your feelings. You don’t hold back your feelings because you know the weight and burden of leaving words unsaid.
Grief highlights how it is worth loving a person with all your heart. You might not see this yet if you’re still trying to overcome your sadness. Eventually, however, you will embrace love and even falling in love again. You’ll appreciate love more today because you know what the struggle is like when you don’t have it.
According to famous author C.S. Lewis in his book A Grief Observed, grief does not end love. Rather, it is part of the process of loving.
8. You realize that you do have a choice
How you experience the things happening in your life depends on the choices you make. This is the way the world has always worked, whether you’re going through a good or bad experience. So, how you get through this grief is still your choice.
If you’ll choose to see this experience as an opportunity for growth, then you’ll gain something positive from it. If you accept that you bear the sole responsibility to make your life better, then you’ll also gain from having a quality life after a loss.