My sister died about two months ago. If you’re new you can read about it here, here, here, and here. If you’ve been with us for that long, you basically know the story. I still don’t understand why she’s gone, and that’s okay, but I wanted to share my "tips" for dealing with death. Hopefully they can help you too.
- It’s okay to not be okay. People will ask you, “How are you doing?” Simply and politely be honest. Most of the time when people asked me, “Are you okay?” I replied with, “Not really, but I will be”, or “I don’t really know”. Most people will leave it at that.
- Realize that people who say you “I know exactly what you’re going through...” really mean well, and want to empathize with you. This was really hard for me. My sister was only 28 when she died and was never conscious to see her firstborn child, and when well-meaning people would say things like, “Oh, I just had a grandmother who was married for a thousand years, had 13.689 kids, 2983 grandchildren, and lived a million years passed a year ago…” (slight exaggeration). I had to remind myself that these were friends, just trying to let me know that I wasn’t alone.
- It's okay to talk about it. It's also okay to not talk about it. Sometimes, you just don't want to. and you don't have to.
- Don’t blame people for the death; not God, not the doctor, not the drunk driver, not anyone. It doesn’t make you or anyone else feel better.
- Let go of guilt. I think there were three times I could have seen my sister in the three days before she was on life support in the hospital, and I didn’t go see her. I’m sad that I didn’t, but I know she doesn’t blame me and wouldn’t want me to be mad at myself for the rest of my life because I didn’t.
- Look for beauty in tragedy. It’s there. You just have to look.
- Pray always. Not sometimes, or often, or whatever. Pray always, and pray for yourself. Always have a prayer in your heart. This actually helps me with life in general, but especially with the passing of Leila.
- Pray for those that have died. Just because they are gone, doesn’t mean you can’t pray for them. I simply pray for Leila to know we love and miss her, and it makes me feel better.
- Utilize the atonement. “There is no sin or transgression, pain or sorrow, which is outside of the healing power of His Atonement.” –C. Scott Grow. The atonement isn’t just for sin! It’s for anything that we can’t bear alone. Remember that Christ knows how you feel, and knows how to comfort you. You just need to ask.
- Write to those that have passed. Sometimes I just miss people. Writing out my feelings as if I’m speaking to them helps a lot. Our family actually set up an email account so people could email letters about Leila to save them for her son. I love reading other people’s memories of her.
- Remember them. My sister blogged and took pictures all of the time. Her blog is still up, and her Facebook account is still active so far, so we have been able to look at pictures, and leave notes on her wall like she’s still here. We talk about her as a family. We remember her every day…and sometimes we still make jokes at her expense, just like we used to.
- Visit their grave site. Sometimes I just drive by and say, "Hello!" out loud. You can call me crazy.
- Go to the temple to find peace.
- Serve someone, because there is no better way to forget yourself than remembering someone else.
- Remember that families are forever.
- It's okay to be happy.
How have you coped with the death of a loved one? Add to the list in the comments!