Tuesday, January 6, 2009

When the Summer's Over

Image found at caseywatson.wordpress.com/
Image found at caseywatson.wordpress.com/

First off, we may cover ourselves in ruffles & ribbons, but what most people forget is that we're still people. This is one of the reasons I've been so excited about this blog being a blog for lolitas, not a lolita blog - it allows me to explore our humanity as it is reflected by our sartorial decisions.

One thing I've never thought to explore, nor have I seen explored on other lolita blogs, is coping with bereavement. This strikes me as odd, theoretically, because it's such a huge, horrible ordeal to go through losing a loved one, and personally, because I have found little in the fashion blogosphere (&nothing in those of our personal niche) while I'm coping myself,& all I want is for someone to tell me what to do. I find this odd- beneath our clothing, we're still humans; souls wrapped in bones & sinew, and since readers of fashion blogs often develop a huge bond with their authors, I don't know why we don't try to help them with the other parts of their lives. They trust us. They need us.

Now, I don't pretend to be at that level yet, but at the same time, I know that bereavement (sadness at the departure or death of a loved one) is a very hard issue that everyone will deal with at some point in their life, and because of this I feel I should add my own two-cents about it.

Losing someone - break-up, passing, going away to school - is always hard, and everyone has their own coping methods. The first thing to realize is that, nine times out of ten, it is not your fault. Blaming yourself & feeling guilty will not help you. Also understand that most of the time the situation was unavoidable, and usually there is nothing you could have done. Once you accept these things (and trust me, it may take a very long time to do so), you can begin to learn from them & grow as a person.

My fellow lolitas, here is where I will be specific to you. I truly believe that most of us see the world differently from most people. We see the beauty in everything, every pintuck on a blouse or gemstone in our jewelry. When we experience bereavement, it can feel like this beauty is ripped away from us - were we undeserving of it? Had we taken it for granted or taken advantage of it, or disrespected it in some other way? The world can look ugly & grey, devoid of color or life, when we are suffering. You have to understand, though, that this is always untrue. The beauty you used to see in the world is still there, I promise- you just have to remind yourself.

A few tips, lolita-centric and not-so-much:

  • Go outside. It's easy to see the beauty of nature, and the vitamin D we get from sunshine is a natural mood-lifter.
  • Always, always, always spend time with friends and family. You're not alone in this, and they will help you cope & unedrstand your pain.
  • At the same time, spend some time with yourself. Curl up with a good book, have a solo movienight with pizza & popcorn & your favorite movies, or start an art journal and let it all out.
  • In conjuncture to the above, sit and think. That's it. Just think. This will be easier to do once the acceptance stage has started in. Think about the person who's gone. Think about your relationship with them, pivotal moments of happiness or sadness, and them as a person. Allow yourself to feel whatever you feel: rage, disrespect, or guilt. Analyze these feelings and what they say about yourself and how you reacted to or treated the other person. Keep these discoveries with you during your journey of healing, and look for ways they touch the other people in your life. If they're negative, try to eradicate them from your behavior; if they're positive, find a way to share them with your family and friends.
  • Be creative! I mentioned this briefly above, but whether you choose watercolors or spices, getting your creative juices flowing is a healthy way to deal with sadness. Express yourself: paint a picture, write prose, or bake cupcakes for all your friends.
  • Drink tea. It contains chemicals that make you alert (caffeine) but also calm you (L-theanine) so that the caffeine doesn't negatively affect your body, making you jittery or dehydrated.
  • Speaking of, drink lots. Not alcohol, of course, because that's no help to anyone, but water, juice, tea, or anything very hydrating. Your body needs to flush all the negative energy from your body, and this is the best way it knows.
  • Eat chocolate or other aphrodisiacs - the reason these foods are usually considered sexual is that they stimulate endorphin production, which are nature happy chemicals.
  • While I'm at it, eat cupcakes. Just because. They're delicious and adorable.
  • And, of course, I'll never frown upon retail therapy. Just be careful - with lolita it's easy to get out of hand, even on only one dress. Go to Target or Forever 21 & splurge on accessories, or head to the sales community and click every single post. If you're worried about going overboard, set yourself a limit - I won't spend more than $100 after shipping, or I'll only look at the first page or only at closet-cleaning sales.

Mourning is never an easy topic to discuss, and is even harder to feel yourself. The worst of it is feeling alone and misunderstood, or like you'll never love or be happy again. Perservere, though - the only thing worse than losing is losing without reason, and if you can't allow yourself to learn and grow through this experience, I firmly believe that you are disrespecting the love that you shared with your departed. It's hard, but don't worry- the summer always has to end so that the world can get rid of its old, dead parts during the winter and grow again into something beautiful during the spring.


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