Sunday, November 6, 2011

Step By Step

When life deals you a blow, your first reaction is to withdraw and protect yourself.  You want to crawl under the covers, lock the doors and wait for the bad stuff to go away.  But guess what?  In the long run, that doesn't work.  Denial usually makes a situation a whole helluva lot worse.

There are lots of theories about why things get worse when they are ignored, but I think it happens because when you don't pay attention to your thoughts and feelings they build up like a pressure cooker.  At some point, the pot is going to explode.

You are in a terribly painful place when you lose someone who made you feel that your life was full of possibilities.  It can be one of life's lowest places.  You feel alone and numb.  You are in uncharted territory because the intensity of your new grief is unlike any thing you have ever experienced.  You are temporarily stunned and there was no way for you to prepare for it.

Yet, even as your world is being turned totally upside down, there is an unspoken expectation that you will handle everything and carry on as though you knew this was coming.  Hopefully, those who know you best will give you some time and space to work through your grief emotions.  I imagine that dealing with your grief in public may be slightly similiar to being a cancer patient.  Most people would rather not discuss cancer or death and most of the time you (the patient) end up trying to make other people feel comfortable while you are barely coping yourself.

I have found that taking baby steps can be a better way to go.  Working through your grief in little ways makes it less overwhelming and easier to handle.  When you find that processing your grief starts to become too much for you, then stop.  Come back to it later; your conflicting grief feelings and thoughts will still be there and maybe taking a break will allow you to approach it from a different point of view.

Pretty much all that you see and feel is your loss and how awful you feel.  You don't know how long this pain is going to last, if the pain is going to get worse, and if so, when it will get worse or how long you are going to feel this way.  That's where taking things in small increments is helpful.

It's ironic.  We have become a society where information about everything seems to be easily accessible and in your face.  People don't seem to care what they say while talking on their cellphones in public and will make anything their business while standing in line at the grocery store.  Yet grief is still in a category by itself.  It's almost as though the general public considers grief to be some kind of a disease or bad luck that they might catch if they spend too much time around you.

We know this isn't true, so ignore the reaction of others.  What's most important is to face your adversity in a positive manner because you can play more of a role than you may realize in steering your future and turning it towards the direction you want.  Whether it's prayer, exercise, talking to yourself or listening to tapes, there are lots of resources out there for you to choose.

All you have to do is start.  Today is a day that's never happened before.

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