How to deal with grief of losing a loved one? NatGeo photographer Paul Nicklen shows how on mother’s death

How to deal with grief of losing a loved one? NatGeo photographer Paul Nicklen shows how on mother's death


Louise Roy Mother of Paul Nicklen Nat Geo photographer

Louise Roy, Mother of Paul Nicklen NatGeo photographer (Photo: Instagram)

Therapists will tell you that not everyone can process grief without rude and painful scars on their minds and soul. Some can handle it well by calling forth their inner strength and using their fall-back system to gain support while they pick up the pieces of their life and begin marching again. Some, unfortunately, can go to pieces in grief, guilt, anger, helplessness, and remorse.

Nat Geo’s celebrated photographer Paul Nicklen has posted a touching note on his Instagram handle.

@paulnicklen “We lost our beautiful mother, Louise Roy, yesterday. @mitty and I have lived right next door to my mom for the past 12 years and these have been the best years of my life because of it. My mom ran a successful business with my brother @aaron_nicklen and the fact that we saw our mom every day is an incredible gift that we will never forget. To have had that level of warmth, guidance, support and most of all, matriarchal love, on a daily basis was the greatest gift of all. True to her French heritage, she lived with true “Joie de Vivre”. Her life was a festive party, and she lived by a set of values that allowed her to be loved and admired by everyone she met. Every morning, she hiked up a small local mountain, often with our dogs in tow. In her mid-seventies, she was in the best shape of her life and had recently retired. Tragically, a brain tumour took her from us way too early. Her kindness and generosity live on in all of us and now we carry on, trying to uphold her values as we grieve her loss. We will celebrate her life at Yates Funeral Home, Parksville, BC on November 27 at 2 pm.

This man has only just lost his mother (two weeks ago) to a brain tumour and was to oversee the beloved mum’s funeral service on Sunday (27 November) afternoon.

With a beautiful photograph of Mama Bear and her two cubs, Paul Nicklen wrote on Sunday 27 November:

@paulnicklen “A mother polar bear would do just about anything to keep her cubs from harm, gently guiding them through a shifting and unpredictable world of melting ice and snow. Mothers are the world’s teachers of resilience, vulnerability, patience, and the fathomless reaches of unconditional love. They keep us safe, feed us, shelter us, and guide us back to ourselves when we become lost. Above all, however, they teach us to hold onto courage in the face of the unknown, giving us the strength to keep them in our hearts even after they finally leave us. Today I would like to honor all mothers across the world as I say goodbye to my own. It will be wonderful to see so many of you at today’s service at Yates Funeral Home at 2pm. #gratitude #life #love #mom

That touching tribute is Paul Nicklen’s way of dealing with the grief of losing his mother. He glorifies all mothers in the world whose “fathomless reaches of unconditional love” and demonstration of their own “resilience, vulnerability, and patience” mould us into strong and capable individuals and also “teach us to hold onto courage in the face of the unknown, giving us the strength to keep them in our hearts even after they finally leave us.”

Paul Nicklen is not just a celebrated photographer who has done National Geographic proud with the numerous wildlife and nature photographs, he also co-founded SeaLegacy, a nonprofit collective of photographers and filmmakers that aims to inspire the conservation of the world’s oceans. A powerful climate change warrior, he is a part of who’s who in conservation. Al Gore also uses images Nicklen has shot in his lectures on climate change. “It’s an image that really allows you to have a microphone and discuss the biggest issue of our time,” Nicklen says.

So, back to how each one of us processes and deals with the loss of a dear family member.

Dealing with the death of a friend, your family, or your special someone will always be hard and may seem like the end of the world when it has just happened. You may feel at that moment that you will never be able to learn to cope, absolutely impossible. But do remember, things will always get better though at times it will be very hard.

We’ve all been through the event of the death of a near and dear one, at least once. Our condolemnces if you have visited this space after such a loss. Please see the tips below on how to help yourself sort out the gamut of feelings that emerge and threaten to drown you at the moment.

1. Do not be harsh on yourself and do allow yourself to grieve without judgment. You may experience sadness, could be upset, or even feel lost. The line “strong men do not cry” is a huge lie. Don’t be angry at yourself for feeling sad, or tell yourself that you should “man up” or get over the loss. You need not be ashamed or shy of grieving or crying or silently feeling sad as any of those can be the likely and legitimate reaction to a dear one’s death.

2. Stop blaming yourself or that you could have helped it but did not. This wasn’t your fault, you have no reason to be angry at yourself. You may find your mind welling up with any of the feelings listed below:

  • Denial or disbelief about the death
  • Shock or emotional numbness
  • Ruminating in your mind over how you could have “saved” the deceased
  • Regret for things you might have done
  • Helplessness or hopelessness
  • Anger or irritability
  • Guilt
  • Finding it tough to go through daily activities

3. You must also not compare your reaction to another’s. Just because another person is crying and choking on tears while you seem to handle it well, does not mean anything bad about either you or that person. Everyone has their individual ways to cope and express.

4. Take a few days off and stay around friends or family. This way you will become each other’s support system, watching over each other’s wellbeing. Seek leave from office or school, share stories that you have of your loved oneshare a meal, activity, or hobby that your loved one enjoyed. Even if you have not much of a bond with the other family members or friends, you can work together to plan the memorial service.

5. Turn tears into flowers. Use the funeral as an opportunity to celebrate your loved one’s life. What has happened may not likely be reversed but why cherish only the sad loss? Your memories of a loved one are likely overpowering, but many of them will be beautiful, poignant, happy moments. Take a vow at the funeral service that henceforth your loved one will only live on in your heart and memories.

6. Stay positive, busy and focussed in the weeks and months to come. Take on activities that challenge your planning and execution and get engrossed. This diversion just might allow you to emerge from the sea of emotions that threatens to overwhelm you. This is not running away but a brief break tto gather your energies and return to deal with emotions with renewed vigour.

7. If you still find it hard to cope, speak with friends, family members. Or therapists.If you still feel you are unable to cope, reach out to a counsellor. Therapists are there to help in a tried and tested manner and there should be no stigma or shame in taking the help of a counsellor.

Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness programme or making any changes to your diet.