Death Changes Us All by Kristy Sinsara
I’ve been through a lot of pain in my lifetime. I was adopted from an orphanage in Thailand when I was 3 years old and raised in a very abusive environment. I’ve overcome the loss of a child. I've spent the majority of my life feeling alone, and lost and dealt with suicide and depression. I’ve had to overcome my own destructive behavior, time and time again.
Yet despite all of the pain I’ve experienced in my life, there is nothing that compares to the unexpected death of someone close to you. I didn’t know this until the moment it happened.
And I learned a lot about growing through this level of grief, and the best ways to truly walk through the fires of this level of pain.
In 2012 my brother unexpectedly died of a rare blood disease.
I was having dinner with friends one evening and received a phone call that he was in hospice. I remember thinking this was a mistake. He’s not in “hospice” he’s probably just in the hospital, and he’ll be fine. I went to go visit him immediately and discovered that he had roughly 3 to 4 days left to live.
I spent the last days of his life by his side; talking, laughing, crying, and ultimately preparing for the fact that he was going to die. Yet, NOTHING actually prepared me for the reality of how I was going to feel the moment it happened.
My mom flew out to be with us, and the doctors pumped him up with morphine to induce a coma so that he wouldn’t experience the pain of the 30+ blood clots that had filled his lungs, as he essentially drowned to death in his own blood filled lungs.
I remember his last words to me…”Will you sing me to sleep, sis?”
He stayed in a coma for about 19 hours and eventually died the next morning at 4am.
And when he died I felt like a part of me died with him.
My entire being flooded with emotions…anger, profound sadness, regret, confusion…
But one thing I know for sure is that I will never be the same again.
That moment changed me in a way that nothing in my life had ever changed me before. It was the catalyst for a complete life-breaking moment, where I eventually found myself depressed, suicidal, angry, sad, and ultimately lost beyond recognition. HOW did this happen? WHY did this happen?
Had I written this blog within days of his passing It would be a very different reality. However, since his death I have allowed myself to grow through some very real truths about him, myself, and life; all of which I am passing on to you here.
HERE ARE MY TOP 10 THINGS I WOULD SAY WILL HELP YOU OVERCOME ALL OF THE ABOVE.
The first thing I’d say is that you have to allow yourself to feel it. We live in a world where we try so hard to suppress all of our sadness, pain, anger, etc., in hopes of it eventually going away. Trust me. This isn’t going to go away. You must allow yourself to feel it. Crawl up in the fetal position, and bellow out the cries from your soul every day if you need to. Feel it as it comes, and never try and suppress the reality that your heart is deeply aching over this loss in your life.
Allow yourself to feel all of the emotions. Not just the sadness but also the confusion, the anger, the totality of it all.
TALK TO THEM
I don’t care what your religious views are. The reality is that our loved ones often hang around for a while until they know that we’re okay.
I will never forget the doctor coming in to tell me that Scott was hanging on for me. He was in a coma, with labored breathing (which seemed like he could go on like this forever). The doctor said, “You must let him know it’s okay to go. I promise he’s waiting on you to release him.”
So I asked everyone to leave the room, and I sat with him and told him how much I loved him. I told him how proud I was of him. How much I’d miss him. How much he meant to me. How much greater my life was because of him. And I cried through the words, “It’s okay if you need to leave.”
And 4 minutes later he took his last breath….
I’ve heard story after story after story from people who have told me that they felt their loved one pass on but they could still feel the energy of them around.
As someone who has discovered since this moment that I have a strange (and uninvited) ability to communicate with those who have passed on, I can tell you wholeheartedly that your loved ones CAN hear you. They’re truly just on the other side of this dimension, and their energy here is almost palpable.
About 2 years ago I sat in a room with a woman whose sister came and stood directly beside her and asked me to pass on a message to her that included information that I could never have otherwise known. The best way to describe this experience is to say that her energy was on the other side of a very sheer very thin vale. They’re there! Talk to them!
DO NOT TRY AND GET OVER IT
One of the most infuriating things I heard from (seemingly) a hundred people was, “He’s in a better place. You'll be okay. You'll get over it eventually”. My only response was, “How about you switch places with him since he’s in so much better of a place?”
To say "Get over it" is dismissive. It’s maddening. It’s condescending actually to say when someone is going through this level of pain and loss.
The BEST advice I heard was from an older gentlemen in his late 70’s who shared with me that his twin brother died when they were 16 years old. He said, “Kristy, you’ll never get over this. Eventually you’ll move on and learn to live with it.”
"YES, that feels right. I'll learn to live with this." I don’t know why I found that so comforting but I was music to my soul to hear someone say something that felt “right”.
I knew I wasn’t just going to “get over it.” And to hear someone give me some honest advice that felt more realistic helped me tremendously.
So I’ll say the same thing to you.
"YOU ARE NOT GOING TO EVER SIMPLY GET OVER THIS. BUT YOU WILL LEARN TO LIVE WITH IT".
Learn to be okay with that.
And eventually you’ll grow from it.
And you WILL BE OKAY.
LEARN TO BE GRATEFUL
If I had to choose the pain over not having him at all, I’d choose the pain 100 times over, as I’m sure you would. Begin to offer gratitude for their lives. Stop getting fixated on their death, and begin to feel the gratitude for their life.
When I realized how much my brother’s life impacted my life I felt a deep sense of gratitude. However, looking back and realizing how much his death was a catalyst for the change I needed in my own life, caused a deep feeling of honor, respect, gratitude, love and hope!
THERE ARE NO ACCIDENTS IN THE UNIVERSE
If you’re freshly going through grief you’ll probably feel incensed by this idea. However, one thing I can say for sure is that IF you will be willing to allow this grief to change you in the way that it was supposed to change you, you will eventually realize the deeper truth and meaning in the reality that there are truly NO accidents in the Universe.
My mom used to say to me all of the time, “There’s no point where God looks down on your life and thinks WHAT IN THE HELL IS HAPPENING DOWN THERE.”
I like to consider everything from a “birds-eye” perspective, and I often say out loud, “That’s not what it looks like from this view.” Meaning, if you pull back from your linear perspective, and look at your life in its wholeness and totality, you’ll eventually realize that it’s all happening for a reason.
The Universe is conspiring FOR YOU, not against you, in this moment!
DO NOT STAY HERE IN THIS PLACE OF GRIEF FOREVER
You’ve just lost someone close to you. It hurts like hell. It’s pain you’ve probably never experienced before. You feel down and out for the count. You’re on your knees. You’re crying daily. You feel depressed. You feel lost. You feel scared. You feel alone. These are all normal emotions.
However, it’s important to recognize that they’re also “situational” emotions, and not a new permanent reality for you. So don’t let it be.
We all have moments that take us down in life. How quickly we get back up matters! You get to choose how long you stay in this space. You are in control of your emotions. It’s not the other way around. You are in control here!
So allow yourself to do all of the things necessary to grieve…but choose to move forward!
Most people never allow themselves to recover from the moments that take them down in life. And this is honestly what separates the successful from the unsuccessful. Everyone, at some point in life, will experience deep pain. How quickly you get back up off the ground will matter to your own future.
And trust me, your loved one wouldn’t want you to stay in this dark place for too long.
I cried daily…and then weekly…and then monthly…and then every now and then…to every once in a while…to now when I think about him I feel a deep sense of pain (which I suspect I always will) however I also feel an equal amount of gratitude and hope.
HAVE A PLACE TO HONOR YOUR LOVED ONE
Keeping pictures of them up all over your home doesn’t help your grief, and taking them down won’t stop it. I suggest you move them into one room or one place in your home where you can go and “feel” whenever you need to or want to.
When you feel ready, I think it’s important that you begin healing by moving on with your life. Part of moving on is not focusing on this tragic moment as often as you can. There’s no need to relive the pain over and over.
Feel it. Truly feel it. Experience it as much as you can…and then YES, move on with your life. I keep my two favorite pictures of my brother in my room close to my bed. One of us as adults, the other of us as children.
KEEP SOMETHING MEMORABLE TO PASS ON
My brother loved music. He used to be a “studio drummer” and was an incredible musician. I have all of his rock t-shirts that I am going to make into a blanket for his daughter one day. I kept his t-shirts, his favorite set of drum sticks, and his old wallet that I will be passing on to his daughter, once she’s old enough to care for these items.
If your loved one had children, choose to create someone special to honor them in this way.
HELP OTHERS THROUGH THEIR PAIN
One of the best ways to receive what you need in life is by helping others get what they need in their lives.
It doesn’t have to be helping other's heal from this kind of grief. We all feel grief for different reasons. Go to a soup kitchen. Feed the homeless. Offer help at a shelter. Do anything that gets you out of this energy of sadness and get some perspective in life by helping someone else get back up off the ground.
THIS ALONE will help you more than you will ever know!
The most important thing that you can do in your life EVER is allow the things that are supposed to change you actually create CHANGE WITHIN YOU. Don’t go through this in vain. It was supposed to change you, let it. It was supposed to inspire you, allow it. It was supposed to motivate you, want it.
Whatever this level of grief was supposed to mean to you, be for you, do for you, LET IT!
I would never have become the woman I am today had it not been for my brother’s death. It changed everything about me. It changed how I feel about life, people I love, how I live my life, what was important and what wasn’t. It changed how I show up in the world entirely.
I no longer sit on my phone if there’s someone in front of me. I am a BEAST about making sure that if you’re in front of me, you’ve got my attention. I am a BEAST about telling those whom I love how much I love them, often. I am a BEAST about honoring those in my world. I am a BEAST about helping others discover joy after sorrow.
Allow your pain to have a purpose.
It’s otherwise just pain….
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