The Stigma of Grief and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
It's been 4 years since my sister's passing and everyday is different. Some days I relive the times of us growing up, fighting, teasing each other, talking about what we would want to do in life. Other days I relive the hard times, the times where she was hospitalized. The times where she went through countless treatments and doctor's appointments. And the last time I got to hold her hand.
The thing about grief is that you have to deal with it everyday. And you have to go back to your "normal" routine eventually. I don't know the concept of what's normal anymore. All I know is that I'll wake up feeling happy but maybe an hour later I don't want to talk to anyone. Anything can trigger a memory of a lost loved one and once that trigger happens, it can change the course of your day.
It took a long time for me to accept her passing. Most people in the community I live in were very understanding. Others expected me to resort to faith to heal everything. I realized that grief leaves you with two perspectives- either you become more faithful or less faithful. And for me it was the latter.
Ultimately I felt guilty. I felt guilty about not spending enough time with my sister. And this guilt drove me into darkness. I lost all self-esteem, self-worth and strength. To the world I was standing but inside I was crumbling. I lost a chunk of myself when my sister passed and I didn't know who I was anymore. I would sleep the days away, I lost weight due to lack of appetite and I surrounded myself with people who I thought would fill my sister's void.
Somehow I got the strength to seek out professional help and I won't say that I got better right away, but it definitely helped to improve my well-being. It took many sessions for me to build myself up again, for me to start school again and for me to start finding a purpose for my life again. Looking back now, the first 3 years after my sister's passing felt like 1 year to me. I lost those 3 years because I didn't know who I was. It felt like I was surrounded by fog, or like I was drowning.
I can say for certain that now, 4 years later, I'm starting a new chapter. But I won't say that I don't suffer because I do. I still deal with insomnia and triggers. I still don't know what to say when someone asks me "How many siblings do you have?" Grief never leaves you, the pain will always be there-but it will become more manageable. It's something that everyone will have to face at one point or another. For anyone going through grief, just know that there is no right or wrong time to "get over it". Take as much time as you need but do not forget that you will be able to pick yourself up and get through it.