In Part 2 of our series on Grief, we will look at the question: How do I deal with this Grief?
Unfortunately, everyone loses someone close to him or her at some point during his or her life. This loss causes us to enter into a state of grieving. This time of grieving can be very painful, and some might find it tempting to deny this grief in an attempt to avoid the pain. Many years of research, however, have shown that it is much healthier to accept these painful feelings and work through the grieving process.
J. William Worden, PhD, author of Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy, describes “The Four Tasks of Mourning” as a means by which a person works through the pain of grieving for a loved one, and moves into the next phase of life.
1. Accept the reality of loss
The first impulse for many people is to deny the loss. The denial can vary greatly from downplaying the loss to having the delusion that the person is still alive. Intellectual understanding of the death is often easier than emotional understanding.
2. Work through the pain of grief
Feeling the pain of grief is difficult. The pain can be both emotional and physical. Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid it. Some try to avoid the pain by keeping busy, working, traveling, or using drugs or alcohol, but this only prolongs the process. Allowing oneself to work through this pain is the most beneficial way of resolving the mourning process.
3. Adjust to an environment in which the deceased is missing
While grieving the loss of a loved one, we also grieve parts of our life that will never be the same. Sometimes the realization of this takes several months. Certain shared activities are lost leaving a feeling of emptiness. This is a normal feeling for a while, but we must come to a point of acceptance and move on to other people and activities. This will allow for new opportunities for companionship and love.
4. Emotionally relocate the deceased and move on with life
This task can be especially hard at first because it can feel like you are being disloyal when you start to think about enjoying a life that does not include your deceased loved one. This is a normal part of the grieving and healing process, and you must allow yourself to have these feelings.
Sharon O’Brien, MA, LPC, in About.com Senior Living* offers the following advice:
Learning to cherish a memory without letting it control you is a very important step in the grieving process. By finding a special safe ‘place’ for that person, you can heal from grieving and move back into your life. You begin to find joy in new experiences, and you can take comfort in the knowledge that you keep your cherished memories with you, wherever you go.
The ‘place’ where you decide to keep your memories is up to you. You can visualize tucking your loved one into a space in your heart, or you can keep a box of cherished photos or mementoes. Perhaps you would like to find a special tree or nature setting that you can revisit. Give some thought to where you would like to hold memories of your loved one. The important thing is learning how to cherish a memory without being stuck there.
For many people, the hardest part of losing a loved one and grieving that loss is figuring out what to do with all the love they feel for the person who is gone. Remind yourself that you do not have to stop loving someone just because he or she is no longer with you. When a memory pops up, send a loving thought and know that you are loved in return. You may find comfort in this, and the strength to continue in your journey.
Please join us tomorrow, when we continue our series on grief by looking at the question: How Can I Help My Child(ren) Deal with Grief?
If you need or would like additional support, do not hesitate to contact Celtic Healthcare’s bereavement team. We will be happy to help you or your loved one deal with this difficult time.