TO HEAVEN, FROM EARTH
A letter to anyone who’s ever lost someone: everything I wish someone could’ve told me.
For those of you who don't know, I lost one of my best friends, Kayla Castro, almost two years ago and it was/is one of the hardest things I've ever walked through. Nothing prepares you for the sort of pain you're left to deal with. This post is just going to be a little list of things that I struggled through and had to learn the hard way during the time of life that one of my best friends was taken away from me. Some of them are things I'm still growing in and having to remind myself of almost two years later.
Firstly, I'm sorry. I'm sorry you had to go through the pain of losing someone you love. I'm sorry that we weren't promised forever on this earth, but oh how much sweeter it is to get the promise of eternity in heaven.
It's okay to feel unbearable pain and have a sense of peace at the same time. You don't have to be strong for anyone! Let yourself experience raw and real emotions without tailoring them for anyone. It's normal to feel deep sadness while still having times of inexpressible joy. Shame might sneak in and try to convince you that you're doing something wrong or that you're not processing correctly. There is no set schedule or manual on how to process death; take as long as you need to mourn and heal. There is no exact way to grieve so don't waste your time comparing one person's experience to your own. Don't rush healing.
People who love you will feel uncomfortable asking you how you are. They still care; they just don’t know how to ask you about it or how to show their love for you best in this time. Processing through death will be hard, and you might experience emotions you weren't expecting. Peace is normal. Confusion is normal. Denial is normal. Anger is normal. It's okay to feel angry at God for taking them away from you. It's okay to be angry at them for leaving you. In my time of deep despair and confusion when I was feeling the need to be put together, I opened up about the uneasy feeling of being angry at God and at Kayla. My pastor looked at me and said "I'd be more worried if you weren't angry" and it brought me to a deeper sense of understanding and it led me to giving grace to myself. It's okay to experience hard emotions!
God might expose fears or chains that you never even knew you had. He did this for me in my time of mourning; He broke open every piece of vulnerability and strength I had which ultimately led to unbelievable growth.
Losing someone for the first time, especially young, will open up a new found actualization of what death is. It will no longer feel like a far off concept. It will feel serious and realer than ever before. Don't dwell on your last interaction with them or the last words that were spoken before their death. That conversation doesn't define the entirety of your relationship.
Talk to people about the memories you shared with them. Invite the people surrounding you to understand a glimpse of who they were. Lucky for me, Kayla made silly videos and vlogs that anyone and everyone can watch for the full effect of who she was. Have a select few people who can act as a support system for you. Make sure you can call them or talk to them whenever you feel the need to talk about their life or when you are experiencing extra hard emotions. Let them walk alongside you and help you navigate through these rough times.
If you like to write, keep a journal solely dedicated to memories of them and little things you remember about their personality or silly little things they loved. Fill it with letters to them and create a redemption list of people who were brought to Christ through their life and their story. Someone I look up to helped me create one for Kayla and I can't even explain how much it means to me.
Lastly, remember to celebrate their life and be grateful for the time you got to spend with them on this earth, whether it was weeks or months or years. They wouldn't want you to be sad because they are experiencing so much more beauty than we can see from down here.