Grappling with the death of someone you deeply cherished is one of those haunting experiences that unfortunately never becomes any easier.
While the absence of a beloved family member, friend or colleague can be daunting at first, there are infinite ways you can honor their life.
Whether you realize it or not, the death of someone you love can actually serve to awaken you.
Here's how to breathe new life into the lingering nostalgia that accompanies a death:
1. Emulate their good qualities.
Just because someone has physically left your presence does not mean their most prominent traits have to fall to the wayside.
In fact, the absence of someone you adored can actually serve the greater good.
By embodying the spirit of your loved one in your everyday life, you are effectively illuminating the world with their most enigmatic qualities.
Was your loved one kind-hearted, wholesome and generous? Do some volunteer work or share a smile with a stranger in order to mimic their core values.
If the one you lost was passionate about animals, make a charity donation in their name.
Anything you do to praise the departed, no matter how seemingly minute, is still a silent bow to them, and that in and of itself is plenty.
2. Talk about them.
The first months after someone has passed away are often the most challenging for those who are left behind.
In time, some of the heart-wrenching pain truly does subside to a mere sting, but just like the memory of your loved one, it never fully fades away.
So, the question remains, how do you immortalize someone who is no longer physically around?
You speak about them constantly and passionately.
To some, it may seem that opening the wound of death will dampen the new life you're supposed to be creating without your loved one. However, it is just the opposite.
By talking about your loved one, you productively resurrect their existence; you literally infuse those around you with their essence.
Go through the old pictures, watch the dated home movies and speak the memory of your loved one into existence.
By doing this, you not only honor the person who passed on, but you also remind everyone, including yourself, how vivacious and brilliant they were.
3. Help fight their demons.
In many cases, outside circumstances contribute to death.
Things like drug overdoses, suicides and chronic illnesses, unfortunately, can lead to death. The most proactive and honorable way to combat these types of things is to get involved in the corresponding community.
Attending seminars about addiction, participating in fundraisers for cancer and frequenting grief groups, for example, are all ways to both educate yourself and serve the dearly departed.
Getting involved with organizations that strive to eliminate what your loved one experienced will not only fulfill you, but it will also honor the one who passed on.
Share their story and give the gift of education to others. It's all about making a difference.
4. Take care of yourself.
Grief is an unpredictable beast, one whose manic waves can wash over you at any given time.
Knowing this information beforehand, however, makes it somewhat simpler to grapple with.
There is no precise fashion in which to grieve; there is no one formula that solves the equation. Doing what is right for you, at the end of the day, is what will define your grieving experience and simultaneously honor your loved one.
Self-love and devotion are paramount when it comes to grief.
Whether it's therapy, meditation, exercise or flooding your life with things and people you love, you must first and foremost look after yourself.
Your life may be permanently altered by the volatile experience of a loved one's departure, but it does not have to ruin you.
Be resourceful, be dedicated and know that the healthiest, happiest version of you is the one your dearly departed loved most.
5. Look after others.
There's a reason airlines tell you to secure your own mask before securing someone else's: It's crucial for life.
Similarly, after a loved one has died, it is imperative that you put your mental and physical health before nursing anyone else back to health.
Everyone processes grief in alternate ways, some of which may not be “proper” coping mechanisms.
However, everyone must wage their own war through distress, and you must let them.
On the other hand, many people find comfort from nurturing others. If cooking, cleaning or just spending time with others who are grieving perks you up, then act accordingly.
How we handle catastrophe is ultimately what shapes us as people, but not everyone's journey is the same.
You should absolutely be a shoulder to lean on, a hand to hold and an ear to listen, but always care for yourself first.
After that is said and done, gently extend your strength and vigor in the direction of aiding others.
When it comes to the mysterious pulls of death, we must do what resonates with our souls.
This is the most beautiful, tender gesture to honor both you and the one you lost.
Treat each and every new day as an opportunity to act on your feelings, to revive the memory of the dearly departed and to grow as a person and mentor.
You have nothing to lose and everything to live for.
This article was originally published on Unwritten.