Hi guys, welcome back to TNTH.
I just wanted to thank you guys for all of the support and love you’ve sent my way through this difficult time. I’ve had my week to spend with my family and had time to do through the many phases this difficult time brings, but I am now inspired and motivated more than ever to continue to move forward with TNTH.
Many of you guys had reached out to me personally and told me that the blog was a very honest representation of myself, and that’s all I really wanted my blog to be. I’m not ashamed or afraid to show a real representation of myself because I have nothing to hide. I am an actual functioning human being with actual feelings and emotions asides being a positive, bubbly person.
With that being said, here’s this week’s Self-Appreciation Saturday.
In the past three years, I’ve had three different events in my life where family members shockingly passed away. My grandmother from my father’s side passed away in 2014 after battling cancer, my dog passed away in 2016 due to his illness and old age, and this past week, my uncle passed away due to irreversible brain damage caused by a heart attack. He was only 54 years old.
For the past 6 months, he lived with us, which caused me to get closer to him. He knew that I was going to grad school, he knew aspects of my personal life, and he always told me how he was proud of me for being the first Baez in the family to obtain a college degree. He was loud, he was crazy, and he always had tea to spill whenever he would come home. It’s been weird to not see him walking around the apartment telling crazy stories and talking really loud, and he’s definitely going to be missed. He leaves behind family and friends who definitely loved him for who he was.
It was crazy how fast he was taken away from us.
And that’s the reality of life. You could see someone 24/7, and never know the day when you’ll never see them again. That one thing that they did that used to annoy you will never bother you again, but somehow you will miss it bothering you because it meant that they were still here with you. Losing a loved one, especially someone who you were so close to, is one of the most difficult things to go through. It’s something that doesn’t go away after a few cries and sad days; some losses last a lifetime.
Going through the stages of loss:
Some people will take loss much harder than others. Personally I’m the type of person who initially doesn’t break down and cry once the bad news happen. When I first found out about my uncle, I didn’t cry when he was being revived. I didn’t cry when I was told that he was on life support and that if he’s brain dead, they were going to have to pull the plug. I didn’t even cry when we found out that there was too much brain damage to save him, and that they were going to pull the plug that Monday. I didn’t even cry when I found out that they pulled the plug Sunday morning, after realizing he wasn’t coming back from this.
I’m not saying that I didn’t care enough about my uncle to initially cry for his loss, and I know that a lot of people who handle grief like me feel guilty about this. What I’ve learned after experiencing That Dragon, Cancer on YouTube (three times) is that grief isn’t what you see in the movies. It isn’t banging on the walls, falling to the ground, and yelling at the top of your lungs in tears. It’s initial shock, denial, disbelief, sadness, and eventually it’s acceptance. It didn’t hit me until I was told he passed away on the day we were all supposed to go to the hospital and say our final goodbyes. It also hit me again when his funeral was on Tuesday. (Thank goodness for Obie being there.) People let it hit them later on, and that’s completely okay. Personally, I don’t like crying in front of my family because for the past few years, I felt like I was responsible to be the strong one in my family. If I do need to release any emotions out about a situation, I cry in solitary where I’m the only one in the moment of my emotions, and I’m the only one dealing with them. Like myself, some people feel like once they’ve allowed themselves to deal with their emotions themselves, they can be there for the people dealing with it harder than you are. Some people were built to deal with loss like that and I believe I was built like that.
Self-care during grieving process:
People will start to put themselves second after finding out that a loved one had shockingly passed away. You start thinking about everything else besides yourself. Some of the thoughts that went through my head during this week was “why him? Did he knew that this was going to be some of his final hours? I should’ve spent more time with him when he was here.” People will always have this sort of survivor’s guilt when someone passes away, especially if it’s someone within your family who really wasn’t of old age; someone who had at least another 25+ years to live. It’s hard to fathom the fact that someone of his age would go through a medical thing that most 60/70 year old people go through. But besides all of that, people’s grieving during a loss can be so severe, they could go into a deep depression. Increased alcohol usage and possible drug abuse can happen, possible mental health disorders begin to develop, and so forth. Long story short, life happens. In times of sadness, people have to take extra good care of themselves because I believe death is life’s ultimate test. It tests a person’s strength and backbone, and at the end of the day, death can either break you or make you. If you allow it to break you, you let life win. If you let it make you, you own your life. Simple as that.
Moving forward from a traumatic time:
After some time has passed since your loved one passed away and you have to get back to work, school, just going through everyday life, the transition from grieving to accepting is possibly the longest transitions of them all. Some people need multiple weeks to move forward, others need just a few days. It all depends on the type of relationship you had with the person, but the end goal of it all should always be moving forward and take this hard time and better yourself from it. These are the simple things that I’m doing to help myself move forward from this unexpected time in my life:
- Keep yourself busy. Sad thoughts will always try to seep its way into your mind, but if you’re constantly doing something that is keeping your mind focused on what you’re doing, the negative thoughts don’t have room to take over. For me, I had tons of reading to do for my Thursday night class, so most of my attention went into that. On the day that I found out my uncle was hospitalized, I watched an eleven-hour livestream of a YouTuber who made me laugh and forget about the negativity happening throughout the day. It’s an extreme, but it helped me stay positive and strong throughout the day because I wasn’t sitting around thinking about the sadness happening within my family.
- Start planning out your future. This is focused on people who lose someone that lives in their household, whether it’s a family member or a family pet. The fact of the matter is that it hits you even harder when the person who passed away is a person who you saw every single day. When Pal passed away last year, I always had to do a second take whenever I passed by the living room because I always thought he was still laying down on the couch when really he wasn’t. For awhile, I always thought I would hear my uncle “shout-talking” in the living room because that’s what he would usually do. It’s never easy moving forward with your life when someone who passed away used to share the house you call home as well. Personally for me and my family, we are planning in the next few weeks to transform our small little apartment. We’re also looking into finding a family pet to welcome to our home once the time is right. 2017 has been already a year of losses, that this gain to our family will be such a positive thing to do.
- Develop new habits and a new mindset. Being under the category of self-care, this deals with more of your mental health after going through a loss of a family member. We, as humans, seem like we’re invincible and that death will come once we lived long, prosperous lives. The reality of it is that none of us are guaranteed that. It’s not a pessimistic way of viewing life, it’s a realistic way. We all want to believe that nothing bad can happen to us, the worst thing being death. Many people can’t even imagine how it feels like to possibly go through death, and sometimes, like my uncles, it happens without even anticipating it. The realest thing about life is that we plan things for the future, we mark days on our calendars for graduations, birthdays, vacations, and all of the good things that we look forward to, but we’re never automatically granted another day of our lives. My uncle was planning to go out to an event on Sunday night. Who would’ve thought he’d missed that one, and the many others that will come in the future. We, as people, need to start living life as fearless as possible. I learned this when I thought I was going to lose my sister earlier this year. I declared this year to be the year that I started to do things without overthinking them. I was going to love more, I was going to smile more, I was going to be more appreciative of people and opportunities and moments more. Of course, life happens and sometimes it’s hard to see your visions through the thick fog i like to call stress, anxiety, and negativity, but we really have to do better as people. In this time of sadness, I’ve learned that I have to start taking care of myself, both physically and mentally. I have to go for what I want, and not fear rejection or have self-doubt about anything that I want to accomplish. I have to go through the challenges that true happiness comes with, and I know that I haven’t lived life right knowing that I didn’t leave this world feeling unconditional love, happiness, and positivity.
Although my uncle lived a short life, he lived an adventurous one. He never let life settle him down. He was a prime example of fearless, ambitious, and happy. In the last 6 months he lived with my family and I, I’ve gotten to know him more than I ever did in the 23 years since I’ve been alive. His visits used to be sparse. Before he moved in with us, the last time I saw him in person was at my grandmother’s funeral in 2014. In the 6 months he lived with us, I’ve gotten to know him more than a family member, but seriously as my uncle. If there’s anything that he taught me while he was here, he taught me to literally live your days as if they were your last, and never regret anything that you do. Enjoy life even if it’s in shambles, be around the ones who make you happiest, and always have fun no matter what you’re doing.
I think even he lived a short life, he accomplished more than the average person does in their lifetime and now, he’ll be dancing Salsa in heaven, haha.
Rest in peace, Uncle Willie. ♥