As 2011 draws to a close and a New Year is almost here, you might be trying to figure out how you are supposed to face the future without someone you lost.
Longtime grief counselor and educator Dr. Alan Wolfelt of Fort Collins, Colo., advises story-writing and storytelling to help the healing process. "Tell the story of death and you begin to acknowledge it," Wolfelt writes. "Tell it 10 times and you begin to let it enter your heart. Tell it over and over and you find it becoming part of who you are."
And from that storytelling you will gain strength; the strength to face the next hour or the next 24 hours without your loved one. Some of my first New Year's Eves after my husband died were sort of a blur of numbness, confusion and feeling outside of myself. I marked the holiday in a low key manner because I didn't feel there was much to celebrate and I was just trying to survive. Eight years later, things are better and I will be spending New Year's Eve with good friends and feeling as though I can face life's challenges.
The healing process might be different for you because the length of the grief process is different for everyone. There is no predictable schedule for grief. Although it can be quite painful at times, the grief process should not be rushed. It is important to be patient with yourself as you experience your unique reactions to the loss.
With time and support, things generally do get better. However, grieving can run in cycles and it is normal for significant dates, holidays, or other reminders to trigger feelings related to the loss.
Taking care of yourself, seeking support, and acknowledging your feelings during these times are ways that can help you cope. Numbing yourself with drugs and alcohol will not help you cope and only prolongs the grief process.
Give yourself time and eventually, hope will rise from the stinging pain you are now experiencing.