The feeling of loss can be overwhelming, and a change in what were once the constants in your life can seem to be too much. But beyond the immediate change, it’s important to find the time to process and acknowledge what has happened and experience the grief before starting the journey toward the next phase of your life.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and a great time to take stock of how your dealing with your own mental health, what role you can play in developing your mental health conditioning and what practices you can pursue to maintain a good mental health outlook. With this in mind, we’ve connected with Eva Under Fire’s Eva Marie, who when not fronting her up-and-coming rock band has been licensed as an outpatient psychotherapist, primarily working in the areas of anxiety, depression, grief and substance abuse recovery.
Given her expertise in these areas, Eva has graciously agreed to pen this Loudwire column throughout Mental Health Awareness month, putting a spotlight on specific mental health issues and providing some tips on how you can help cope with each. In this final installment, Eva shares her personal experiences with grief and how she personally found her way through it while realizing that not everyone deals with grief on the same schedule. Read her latest entry below.
Loss is hard enough on its own, but the complicated fallout afterward adds pain to misery.
We were on our third major tour, far from home, when I got the phone call no one wants. My uncle, who had been in the hospital, wasn’t going to make it. Everyone let me cry it out backstage. The next day at the venue, every single crew member and band member came to check on me and express condolences. I’m beyond grateful for the support, as it was very strange for me to go through something so sad without my biological family beside me. My tour family definitely stepped up and I’ll never forget that.
My family back home assured me that my uncle would have wanted me to continue, so I chose to stay on the road and finish the tour, but it was hard. Going home after the tour to my grieving family was hard. The overwhelming feeling of “there’s nothing I can do” was hard. Here’s the truth I’ve learned about grief.
Togetherness can be the opposite of what you need. We’ve all heard that people grieve differently. But sometimes grieving is not a peaceful process. It can be a mental state full of anger, accusation and bitterness. If I’m bitter, my brother is angry and my mother is sad, then putting us together to support one another may feel forced or create tension.
It’s okay if you don’t show up to every family gathering. It’s okay if you walk away from the table and take a moment for yourself. It’s okay if your grief doesn’t feel like someone else’s. Take time for yourself and make sure when you choose to be with others, that you have the emotional bandwidth to be able to do so.
Grief stages or grief waves? My experience has been that grief comes and goes, then hits you again. Sometimes I would catch myself thinking, “Why am I not past this” or “Why do I cry out of nowhere?” We’ve all heard of the Five Stages of Grief. I found that I would shift in and out of different stages at different times. Sometimes I found I would repeat certain stages. My experience taught me that grief is not linear. I had to notice when it came and went, allowing it to have its space.
Set a grief timer. Sometimes grieving can feel like it takes over your life. Exhaustion, low mood and lack of sleep/appetite can feel like that’s all there is. Avoiding thinking about it won’t help. Instead, it may be helpful to set a timer, even for just a few minutes, to think about it, notice how you’re feeling and let the breakdown happen. When the timer goes off, you can pick up the pieces and go about your day.
I hope this helps and I’m sending you so many hugs. Grief sucks, but we’ll get through it.
Our thanks to Eva Under Fire’s Eva Marie for her series of Loudwire columns for Mental Health Awareness Month. The band’s song “Unstoppable” from their ‘Love, Drugs & Misery’ album is available now and you can pick it up and find the group’s touring information via their website.
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