UNITED STATES—There is one thing promised to everyone in life: death. Yes, death can be scary and while I don’t fear it, I tell people time and time again that a near death experience can change you in ways that you can’t always explain. I’ve had near death experiences and I’ve had family members encounter similar situations, so death is something that has been prevalent in my life and I’ve probably been to more funerals than I can count.

Right after I graduated from high school, a grease fire left me scared with second degree burns on my arms and legs. It might have been the scariest thing in my life because at the moment; the goal was to diffuse the grease fire that just seem to come out of nowhere! People seem to think they understand, but I beg to differ. Fire has no clear target, it just destroys anything that sits in its path, and it burns like hell people, like seriously.

I consider that a chance incident, but I will never forget the moment where my life was threatened and nearly gone after being robbed at gunpoint. The notion of someone trying to take your life leaves a person rattled, and not in the best way, it haunts your dreams, it leaves you uneasy and you just constantly play that scene or moment over and over and over again in your head. You wonder if there was anything that you could do differently that would change the situation, and of course there probably were, but you can’t continue to beat yourself up over it. You have to find a way to get past it and try to move on with your life the best way you know how.

And this is something I will argue: people need to back off when a person suffers something traumatic like a near death experience or the death of a loved one. Everyone processes grief in a variety of ways. Some grieve much quicker than others, some take months, even years to fully grieve; that is there option and you should give them the space to do it.

The one thing I would argue about death is the importance of allowing a person to have an emotional release, be sympathetic, but don’t assume just because you endured death that it is equal to someone else. There are varying degrees of death, a sibling, a parent, a child, a close friend, a family friend. I have to assume the death of a child or the death of a parent is likely the worse.

My family is placed right in the midst of a relatives grappling with their mother near death, but also with the reality that my grandmother’s health is ailing and not getting any better. Seeing someone wither down to nearly nothing is so difficult to watch, hard to fathom and even difficult to discuss with people. There more love that surrounds you the easier it becomes to process that death and to recover from it. Death should not be something to be feared, but be aware when dealing with grief and traumatic experiences the emotions do indeed come in waves, sometimes waves that you least expect.