To write an article or not write an article. This is always the battle that goes through my head this time of year. A few months ago I had my friend Matt Zimpfer on the podcast. In it, we discussed a lot of things but at the end he asked me a question: How did you handle the loss of a loved one? I thought to myself, if Matt wanted to know, there may be someone else out there who may also want to know.
Six years ago I received a call from my mother. It was a Sunday morning and I was working. Because of that, I just so happened to miss the call. I listened to the voicemail and judging by my mothers voice, I knew something was wrong. She asked to call back but I had two more clients to train so I waited. The whole time I was working with the first client I had this terrible feeling and knew I had to call her immediately after. Upon finishing I called my mother back and when she answered she said “he’s gone Chris, your brother Ryan is gone.” I got the one phone call that I feared the most. My brother had died of a heroin overdose.
There is no cultural protocol on what to do when you lose a loved one. There are no rules or guidelines on how to cope. Losing someone close to you is going to be wretched. You cannot escape that. The pain felt will come and when it does, it will come in waves. Initially, these waves will be right on top of each other. There will be no break in the tide and these waves will constantly batter you. It is going to feel like you are drowning in sorrow. At some point in time, there will be a little break in those waves. There will be a small moment of relief. Something is going to show you a little bit of light, then another wave will come back and push you back into the darkness. You will feel great in one moment, then sad in the next. You are at the mercy of this ocean of sorrow.
But eventually, that wave will subside. The breaks between the waves will widen, and they won’t be as frequent. Over time, the waves may even become a little weaker. It doesn’t mean you love that person less. It doesn’t mean you aren’t crushed. It just means you are starting to deal with it which is exactly what you are supposed to do. Eventually, you will have to move forward. When you feel one of those breaks in between waves, it is time to start doing something positive. Go for a walk, spend some time with friends, workout, think about the positive memories you’ve had with that loved one. Eventually, you will be able to bring on the waves, but this time, it will be on your terms. You can look at the pictures, you can read the letters, you can write down the memories, you can REMEMBER.
After all this, you can go visit them at their grave. You can tell them you miss them. You can tell them you love them. And then you go and live your life. The waves are still going to come, and there will be still be pain and sorrow, but you keep moving forward. You live your life and you make them proud.