Monday, August 20, 2012

On Your Own Time


Slowly, I have found that the passage of time does help you gain inner strength and perspective as you try to adjust to an altered life after the loss of a loved one.  Your emotions are not as a raw as they were in the beginning of the grieving process and eventually you start to feel that you have more control over the sadness and confusion concerning your loss.

It just doesn't happen as fast as everyone else wants it to happen.

Unfortunately, our go-go society is not very tolerant of understanding how much time it really takes to learn how to recover, rebuild and then go on to live without your loved one in your life.  Each person's journey toward resilience is different because each person's circumstances and relationship to the deceased is different.

Don't give up on yourself on your future.  It is painful but you will find ways to stay connected to your loved one.  There really is no wrong way or right way.  I know of one woman who told me that she had to go back to work after her husband's death.  Her emotions were all over the place but she didn't want to "lose it" at work so before she went to work she would sit in the living room and face her husband's chair as though he was sitting there facing her.  She would then carry on a conversation with him and talk and cry with him until she felt she could go to work without having her emotions spill all over the place.

You will find your way!  I recently read the below article on the Huffington Post and found it to be very helpful.  I think Ashley Davis Bush, a psychotherapist and author, says it all right here:

Get Over It!  (And Other Things That Grievers Cannot Do)
By Ashley Davis Bush, LCSW

I have been working with grievers for over 20 years.  My grief book, Transcending Loss, was published 15 years ago and continues to help readers.  One of the reasons for its enduring appeal is that it acknowledges the lifelong impact of grief.  In it, I give grievers permission to feel their pain, find meaning in their loss and stay connected to their dearly departed.

Our pain-averse culture wants to sweep grief under the carpet as quickly as possible.  We prefer grievers to finish mourning in a timely manner so that we can all get back on schedule.  Grief, however, is ongoing.It has many twists and turns that defy our best attempts at orderliness.

If you or someone you know is grieving, the following grief resource will help you understand what to expect.

What Grievers Cannot Do

--Get Over It -- Although stoicism it is not healthy for grievers.  The truth is that a major loss is devastating -- physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Grievers don't simply "get over" such a life-altering experience as one might get over an illness.  Grief is a necessary, ongoing journey that fluctuates over time.  Grief has no closure.

--Forget Their Loved One -- Grievers cannot and should not pretend as if their loved one never existed.  Most grievers think of their beloved one daily, no matter how many years have gone by.  If you, as a friend, never mention the loved one  who has died, you are acting as if you've forgotten.

--Move On -- Grievers are often tol to "move on" with life.  It is impossible to move on as if nothing has changed when the foundation of one's life has been shattered.  Severing a tie to a deceased loved one is not possible, nor should it be the goal (see "Moving Forward" in the next section).

--Be Their Old Self Again -- Grievers are irrevocably changed.  They cannot return to being their old selves again.  They are no longer the same person after a major loss.

--Stop Hurting -- Grieverss and their ones often wish for the pain of grief to stop.  The hard truth is that painful feelings of grief will arise again and again over the years.  They will continue to "burst" into life at the most inopportune moments.  Sometimes a holiday or anniversary will stimulate renewed pain and, at other times, a simple rainy Tuesday is all that it will take.

What Grievers Can Do

--Integrate Loss Into Life -- Grievers must live with loss, but they do have the choice to reengage with life.  The way to begin this lies in the understanding that loss is an inevitable part of life and that their loved on is always with them in their heart.

--Move Forward -- Grievers may not be able to simply "move on" but they can "moveforward" as a changed person with a willingness to accept the many facets of being alive.  When grievers move forward they do so with their loved one ever in their memory, their hearts and their spirits.

--Remember and Stay Connected In Love -- Grievers can make it a practice to honor their loved one and stay connected to them.  They can keep journals and letters written to their loved ones, display photographs and speak about them.  Grievers are still in a relationship with their loved one even though their physical form is no longer on this planet.

--Embrace A New Self -- Grievers can understand that being forever changed means that while the old self has died, a new self is emerging.  This new self has the potential for increased strength, wisdom, compassion, insight and perspective.

--Channel Their Pain Into New Energy -- The human spirit is remarkably resilient.  Grievers can pour their pain into new life missions, causes and callings.  They may reach out with compassion and understanding to others who suffer.  Grievers have a choice to transcend their loss by making meaning out of unspeakable pain.

Grief is a universal human experience that all of us will encounter eventually.  Understanding what we can and cannot expect will help ease the process as it unfolds.  Loss may change life as we know it, but the unknown is full of possibility.

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