The last few months have been very difficult for my family. In August, my dear brother was killed by a hit and run driver. In one second, our world was smashed into a million bleeding pieces. If it weren’t for the constant support and love we are receiving from family, friends, therapists, police officers & detectives — I know this struggle to heal would be a thousand times more difficult. I am grateful. I take things one moment at a time now. Trying very hard to not replay the events of that hellish night – trying not to get trapped in the exhausting thought that this miserable sadness will be with me for a lifetime. To BE HERE NOW, that is my goal.
The horror, anger and unimaginable pain of my brother’s murder has made it difficult to face the holiday season; to celebrate alongside such horrific loss is strange. I am trying to help myself heal and move forward through these tricky waters. This is all very new, but I am discovering the things that are working for me and I thought I would share them with you. Perhaps one of you can relate and this will help you too. To feel connected is important.
1. Take care of yourself. Keeping up with personal hygiene and health is so important. It took me a few weeks, but I eventually realized that showering, drying my hair and putting on real clothes actually made me feel better – more directed.
2. Protect yourself from disturbing news in the media. Between Ebola and ISIS, I could feel the anxiety taking over every time I got in front of my computer or TV. I decided to take a break from all news channels and shelter myself. I barely know what’s going on in the world, but I have enough on my mind for now.
3. Get help. If it weren’t for my therapist, I am certain that I would not be doing as well as I am now. It is important to talk to someone who can tell you that your fears, thoughts, actions are all normal and that you’re going to be OK.
4. Let things slide. Perfection isn’t possible, shoot for the best you can do and be easy on yourself.
5. Help others. I found this to be the most beneficial thing of all. I started volunteering at my daughter’s school on a regular basis. To get outside of my head, to think of others, to be in the presence of beautiful children — all of this has helped me feel better.
6. Change what you can, let go of what you cannot. It makes me sick to my deepest core when I think of the way my brother died — he was killed. I wanted to change that connection, I didn’t want that fact to be the first thing that came to mind when I thought of him. I decided to start committing random acts of kindness in his memory. Whether it’s holding a door for a senior citizen, paying a genuine compliment to a stranger, picking up a piece of trash from a neighbor’s lawn – every time I do something kind for another person, I quietly offer it up to my brother. It lifts my mood and warms my heart to keep his memory alive through kindness. He was such a loving and caring soul.
7. Create visual cues to keep you on track. Whether it’s a prayer, an inspirational quote, a beautiful plant — keep it in a spot where you will see it often. It will help to jog you along when you’re feeling weak.
8. Breathe. Take in long, deep breaths and let them out slowly and fully. The anxiety and sadness can strike anytime, anywhere – breathing is centering and mindful, and you can do it anywhere.
9. Put on your favorite tunes. I have found that listening to music has lifted my mood, given me energy, restored my senses — it’s a real lifesaver for me.
10. Know that you are not alone. As Abraham Lincoln said, “In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all… it comes with bitterest agony… perfect relief is not possible except with time. You cannot now realize that you will ever feel better… and yet this is a mistake. You are sure to be happy again. To know this, which is certainly true, will make you some less miserable now. I have experience enough to know what I say.”
I have found “A Sky Full Of Stars” from Coldplay to be a mood lifter for me — the lyrics apply to my current state of mind – I look for my brother everywhere now…
If you are mourning the loss of a loved one and finding the holiday season to be a painful trigger – know that you are not alone. Sending out love and peace, Camilla