Loosing a loved one is never easy, whether its expected or not. Dealing with the death of my father ten years ago changed me forever. Dealing with two more losses this year, less than six months apart (one the day after my dad’s 10 year anniversary this month) have shaken and stirred up feelings that I haven’t felt since dealing with the passing of my dad. I don’t feel like it ever gets easier, no matter how many people you loose or how many times you have to go through the process. Point blank, it sucks. I’m certainly not going to sugar coat it. If you’ve reading this, chances are you’ve probably lost someone and you probably have an idea of what I’m talking about. It’s a sort of brokenness that never quite heals, no matter how much time has passed.

Here are a few things you can do to try and make yourself feel a little more at ease, no matter where you are in the grieving process:

If you take anything from this post, I hope it’s that life is fragile. Please don’t ever take anyone or any moment for granted. You rarely get do-overs or second chances, and sometimes there is no tomorrow, so try to live with less judgement and hate, and more understanding and compassion.

  1. Let yourself be vulnerable. I was fortunate to not have had to deal with death for a really long time growing up (I had a few classmates pass but no one super close to me until my dad passed away when i was 16). Dealing with a loss of that magnitutde, at that age, was traumatic to say the least. I experienced emotions and feelings I had never ever felt before, let alone imagined, and it was terrifying. At 16, I was completely lost, unable to express what had just happened to my family and the emptiness it had created inside me. However, I tried really hard not to let this show. I didn’t want to burden people with more pain or problems when we were already going through so much. I made myself be strong because I felt like I needed to for the people around me, which isn’t necessarily healthy. Please don’t ever feel like you need to pretend to feel something other than how youre feeling, just for someone else. You’re allowed to break down. You’re allowed to cry, and be sad, but try not to let these emotions consume you, and definitely don’t turn to alcohol or drugs to numb the pain, it only makes things worse.

    Whether it's to a parent, best friend, sibling, professional therapist, counselor or complete stranger, opening up about death does not mean you are weak -- it means you're strong enough to be honest with the world, but most importantly yourself. When you let yourself be vulnerable, you invite others to be vulnerable around you. One day when you're feeling like complete sh-t, they'll be there for you. Then when they have a day when they feel like complete sh-t, they'll come to you and you'll be there for them. I’ve realized that everyone processes death in a different way. Knowing this means that you don't have to second guess your thoughts, feelings and actions. This is your personal journey, and you're allowed to feel, think, say or do whatever it is that you need to heal.

2. As much as it hurts, try to remind yourself that things happen for a reason and they’re in a better place now. Whether it was an expected loss, or unexpected, theres nothing you can say to make death any easier. I choose to find comfort in faith; in knowing that there was a higher power or cause that needed our loved one more than we needed them here, as hard as that is to accept.

3. Allow yourself time to find and adjust to your new normal. It wasn't until I realized that my life would never be the same as it was before, that I began to take control of my future. I stopped chasing the idea of “normal'“ that I had been so comfortable with for 16 years, and I started embracing the “new” normal and allowed myself to move forward, like I know they would want us to..

You're allowed to be completely f-cked up. This is not only one of the hardest thing that you've ever been through, it is also one of the hardest things that you will ever go through. Try to find peace in that, knowing that although you don’t know whats to come, anything else that's thrown your way will be nothing compared to what you went through with this. I’m a firm believer that nothing is coincidence and that there is a bigger plan for us all. I believe that we aren’t presented with anything that we can’t handle, and everything were going through is preparing us for whats to come. I also find it’s a bit comforting to know that because of my today’s, I’m stronger than I was yesterday.

I’m thankful for the reminder that life is short and all that matters is how we make the most of the time we have left. It brings me comfort knowing that nothing is more important than family (and i mean nothing) and that everything we’ve been through has helped make us who we are. It brings me a bit of peace to be able to look back and see that I was strong enough to make the choice to live the life that I have always dreamt of, in honor of those I’ve lost, and didn’t let the situation or circumstances define me. Please don’t ever be ashamed of your past. Your past is everything that makes you you. Life is short and if you’re not making the most of who you are and what you’ve been given, then what are ya doing?