I never thought I would write about this topic. On November 25, I lost my uncle back in Turkey who passed away from age. I am happy that he is in a better place now, as he’s been battling various health issues for years. Despite our distant relationship, he was a good man and always worked hard. We were not close, but I can’t help but feel immense grief and disorientation over his passing. I have nine assignments due for finals in the next two weeks before my study abroad program ends, which is proving hard to focus on while I am dealing with strong emotions such as grief and anxiety.
A week after his passing, I am learning that I am stronger than I thought. Here are some ways I am coping with grief while studying abroad:
Find your support network
Our emotions are not meant to be bottled up, and boy did I learn that the hard way. That’s why I’m so grateful for my therapist. She listened to me talk about this sudden passing and offered great advice for how to cope.
Don’t have access to therapy? I also went to the internet and searched how to cope with grief and found amazing resources that helped me feel less alone. Thankfully I had a friend I made while studying abroad that I could confide in about my feelings, who offered sympathy.
I know some do not like to discuss their emotions with others, which is understandable. Journaling about your thoughts and emotions is very beneficial too! You can write anything you want on paper without fear of judgment.
Don’t be afraid to get your emotions out! Cry, laugh, exercise, and just do what you have to do.
Appreciate where you are
My uncle knew I was studying abroad in London, living my best life and learning how to be happy again. He would have wanted me to continue working hard on my final assignments and take every opportunity to explore Europe, no matter how much I am grieving and sad over his passing. Reminding myself to appreciate where I am no matter how difficult my emotions are brings me solace.
So when I am feeling low and anxious, I go to Waterlow Park and sit by the river or on a bench while watching dogs play. I take deep breaths, make observations about the beautiful nature around me, and say a short prayer for him.
You are allowed to explore the country and make amazing memories while grieving. Don’t think you must stay in your room crying your eyes out. Of course that is understandable if you choose to do so, but don’t forget there’s so much to see and appreciate out there that your deceased love one would’ve wanted you to experience.
Be kind to yourself
Instead of being hard on yourself for not being able to say goodbye, treat yourself the way that you would treat a friend who is grieving. Is school work proving difficult to complete? Ask your professors for an extension due to a passing. Feeling low on energy? Make yourself a nutritious dinner or ask a friend to pick up food for you.
We all grieve differently. What works for me may not work for you. What’s important to remember is that life is short, so make an effort to spend time and talk with your loved ones.
It’s never certain that we’ll wake up in the morning. I know that sounds sad, but I am just trying to remind you not to go to bed angry with a loved one. I wish I was able to talk with my uncle one last time, but I thought I’d see him again.