Experiencing Grief to Start Living Again

My mother once said,

“We’ve reached the age where we’ve started losing our friends; it’s just horrible to have your circle become smaller and smaller as loved ones pass on.”

The loss of a close friend or loved one never makes anyone happy, but is there a better way to respond to the sadness? While it’s true that there will be pain with each loss, no one should stop living while there is still a possibility of doing otherwise.

After losing yet another special person in my world, I find it a good time to remind myself of the natural stages of grief. I do this not only so I can remember that each stage holds a completely understandable emotion, but also so I will be ready, eventually, to find myself on the other end of the spectrum without feeling guilt for continuing to live and enjoy my life.

Stages of Grief

  • Shock and denial may last for weeks, along with a type of numbing that will allow me to avoid a sense of being painfully overwhelmed at the loss. This can’t be happening. What are the possibilities that there’s been a mistake? And why did this happen?
  • Pain and feelings of loss must be experienced, rather than trying to numb those feelings with drugs or alcohol. And what about experiencing guilt? What could I have done, or shouldn’t have done, when I had the chance?
  • I know that anger and bargaining will present itself, along with lashing out unreasonably at others, or making promises-I’d do this, if only…
  • Depression, reflection, and loneliness will be experienced when the new reality becomes apparent. While some may turn to isolation or get lost in the memories, I know this may prove to be a turning point.
  • I have learned from experience that I must take the time to work through my feelings; avoiding them now will only provide an opportunity for them to be magnified later. Now is a time to start refocusing on what has happened, and how the new normal can best be managed. What do I need to do? How will I handle this now that this person is no longer in my life? How will I move forward?
  • Eventually I know I will start feeling acceptance and hope. This is a time that will impact everyone who shared in the loss. I will still miss my loved one, and that hole will always exist, but I am ready to start living my life again. I can think of my loved one with less pain, and even smile at the good memories of times shared. I can find joy in the world around me.

A Time to Move Forward

It is important to remember that, while a person may be physically gone, there will be proof of a life well-lived in all who remain. A spouse, a child or grandchild. Special stories or traditions.

We must all remember that we are still among the living. We must allow ourselves to lean on our families and friends for a time, and then we should all be willing to move forward. As Sara Bareilles sings in Chasing the Sun,

There’s a history through her
Sent to us as a gift from the future

To show us the proof.

More than that, it’s to dare us to move

And to open our eyes and to learn from the sky…

 

You said, remember that life is
Not meant to be wasted;
We can always be chasing the sun!
So fill up your lungs and just run
But always be chasing the sun!

 

May we all find joy in our worlds today.

Dr W

 

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Photo by SHTTEFAN on Unsplash.

 

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