Letting go

Grief is a S.O.B. It wrings the joy out of your day and replaces it with a deep emotional pain that causes a physical ache in the body. The separation from the ones we love is enough, but it is also the separation from knowing where you fit into the grand scheme of things. There is a deep questioning of what the point of any daily activity might be. It is a slippery slope where depression lays in wait at the bottom.

How on earth do you get out from under all of it? When someone dies or tragedy strikes, it is easy to get quickly overwhelmed. I can’t say that I have any new ideas or that I am finished with my grieving process, but here are somethings that have helped me:

• If you don’t believe in life after death, get a new hypothesis. I thought I believed in an afterlife, but until the recent deaths in my family happened, I realized that I was still sitting on the fence. The reality is no one really knows 100% what happens when we make the transition, but believing someone can just disappear is a thought not worth entertaining after a loved one passes. It is just too painful to think otherwise. Belief brings meaning and purpose to an otherwise unfathomable event.

• Stay focused. Keep focusing your mind on the positive joyful things all around you. It may seem forced at first but looking for joy will bring more joy. It is too easy to get sucked into desperate thoughts of the pain. Keep a list of things that you experience throughout the day that are joyful. It could be simple like a beautiful flower or it could be a word of kindness and comfort from someone you know or a hug from your kids. These moments matter. If you keep track of them, writing them down, you can read them over when you are having a tough time.

• Stay busy. One piece of advice I recently read was to scrub floors or chop wood until you are physically exhausted. Exercise, routine, purposeful activities, these pull you through. Helping others or volunteering is also a wonderful way to do work that consumes energy that could easily be misspent on wallowing.

• Cry if you need to. Honest emotional expression is very healthy. Crying is actually a great way of discharging excess stress hormones and neuropeptides. Sometimes things look brighter on the other side of tears.

• Meditate or pray every single day. Connect to your higher power in whatever way is most meaningful for you. Let the love and comfort wash through you. Let yourself be carried when you can no longer stand it. Let go. Let it in. Breathe in. Breathe out. Set a timer. 15 minutes.

• Call in the troops. Strong people have strong support. Let people help you. You don’t have to go it alone. Sometimes talking to someone who also knew and loved the person who died is a great help. Other times it might feel better to talk to someone who is not grieving themselves. It is not weak to talk to a professional, it is smart. There is something comforting to spill everything to someone who has no investment in you behaving or feeling any particular way.

• Be gentle with yourself. Care for yourself as though you were a newborn baby. Stay warm. Wear cosy clothes. Eat simple food. Grief takes the time it takes. Some say to expect a full year before you are through it. You have all the birthdays, anniversaries and holidays to go through. It comes in waves. If you are like me, and have yet to make it a year before the next funeral, just hang on to the love that surrounds you at every turn. Get dedicated to searching for things to feel good about. It becomes a lifeline.

• Forget about “getting back to normal”. There is no use pretending that things will be the same after a major loss. Going backward is not an option, neither is spending too much time struggling against where you are. You can’t change any of it. All you can do is move forward. Find things to look forward to. If you are alive, you still have life to live. Plan something other than the funeral. Go forward.

Even with all of these ideas I still have some pretty awful days. I don’t cry in front of my three year old, if I can help it. But he knows. They pick up on it. He came home and told me “Stop crying, Mommy. Be happy.” The best advice yet.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. namelessneed
    Mar 17, 2012 @ 04:28:50

    can be a valuable read now, for when lightening strikes, sound advice, all in a ready list is anywhere but Here Now
    thanx for sharing

    Reply

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