Good Grief! We made it through the holidays and into a new year. I hope your holidays were filled with joy, amazement and the company of those you love. On the flip side, the holidays often pack quite a punch for many of us and we now have the task of refocusing and renewing our commitment to move forward into the new year.
I sat down with a friend of mine right after Thanksgiving. Her husband died at the end of August under Hospice care. While she expressed her extreme gratitude for the outstanding support that she and her husband received, she was speechless as her eyes filled with tears. After some silence, she was finally able to say that she never thought that grief and emptiness could hurt so much or the days and nights could seem so long now that she no longer is caring for her husband.
My mother died six years ago and for some reason, my loss seemed fresh this year. I missed her more than I remember missing her in years past. I wonder why? And if we say grief is normal, natural and even a good thing, then why do we continue to experience it in various ways for so long?
We all know that grief can throw us into some places we don’t want to visit such as isolation, depression, guilt, anger, loneliness, financial worries, fatigue, over-indulging, over-extending and over-expecting. It can leave us physically exhausted, mentally drained, emotionally distraught and spiritually empty.
We’ve learned that grief is a process and a journey that demands our attention. It doesn’t always flow in an order of stages commonly referred to as Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and finally, Acceptance that many of us learned about from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.
Well then, you might ask, “What could possibly be GOOD about this thing we call Grief?” Here’s a few of the positive aspects of the grief experience:
- It reassures us that we’re humans with very real emotions and that we have not forgotten important people and important life lessons
- It reminds us of what’s most and least important in our lives
- It confirms that something unsettling and/or disturbing is over and that we’ve moved beyond it
- It forces us to define our priorities
- It prompts us to look beyond this short life
- It refreshes us with memories we hold dear
- It enhances our hearts and our souls with all that is meaningful
How can we make sure it’s good grief?
- Identify it. What actually happened? Where were you? What did you see and hear? Putting the pieces together is important.
- Feel it. How did you respond at the time? How do you want to respond now? Get angry! Feel guilty! How would you do it differently? Do it! Dedicate the time
- Reject it. If it was an ugly loss, give thanks it’s over and that you’re ok. Learn from it. Deny its’ power over you.
- Enjoy it. Preserve memories, pictures and family traditions. It made you who you are today.
- Talk about it. Don’t keep it to yourself. Choose an understanding soul and invite them to walk this journey with you. Talk to God. Use good self-awareness and don’t talk about it every time you’re with people. See a professional if you’d like. Consider a support group.
- Differentiate it….the Good Grief, the Bad Grief and the Ugly Grief. Don’t let your feelings and reactions determine who you are or who you become. Don’t let one chapter of your book ruin the ending. Take control of it so it doesn’t take control of you.
- Embrace it…because it was real. Experience relief, peace, comfort, memories, healing, eternal reassurance
- Integrate it…. It’s part of you so blend it into who you are and who you want to be
- Celebrate it…Honor it. Preserve it. Make it personal. Look forward to anniversaries. Mark it. Memorialize it. Pay it Forward.
- 10.Heal it/Accept it….Decide to move forward with new hope, courage and resolve. Model graceful acceptance for someone else. Be real and courageous. Mend. Forgive. Align. Celebrate. Be mindful and be present in the now. GOOD GRIEF…..Why not?
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
- Grief is normal, natural and necessary.
- We can always revisit our grief journey and complete it or do it better.
- We can remind ourselves that setbacks are normal and to be expected.
- We can know that we will get through this and even get to the point where we might even enjoy the grief journey.
May God Bless you as you move forward with renewed energy and God’s grace.