“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” ― Edith Wharton
This article is inspired by one you fabulous readers. I was asked what to do when your grief outlasts the support of your family and friends. Personally, I haven’t had too much experience in this area, but I do know what i’ts like to lose a loved one. I lost family members, friends and beloved pets.
Many of us have experienced some form of loss; whether it be a breakup, a death, a firing, a strained relationship, or an illness or injury, and it sucks. Sometimes our losses create small dents in our egos, while other times the pain leaves craters in our souls, making us want nothing more than to disappear.
Choose your response
There are no accidents. The universe is always unfolding exactly as it should. Sometimes its gifts come in the form of good fortune, while other times they come in the form of challenge and strife. You don’t always get to choose what happens to you, but you do get to choose how you respond to it.
Working with a difficult person, the calcifications found in my breast, and the many running injuries I’ve suffered over the years were not accidents. They were difficult experiences bringing me the opportunity to choose forgiveness, love, strength, fear, courage, hope and resilience.
Be super kind to yourself
Too often, we condemn ourselves for not feeling the way we think a situation should make us feel. It is as if we are following a script that says we should feel happy in this situation, but not in that. For example, just because the media, your friends and your family say you should be ecstatic on your wedding day and in the few days following the birth of your child, doesn’t mean you should be.
There is a lot of loss around both events–most notably, the loss of an accustomed lifestyle, and that is sad. But if you don’t heal from this sadness, it will permeate everything you do. It may not come out as sadness, it may out as anger, irritation, resentment, depression or frustration, but I assure you it will come out.
To feel better, treat yourself kindly and focus on the positive things in your life. Research shows self-compassionate people cope better with everything from a major relationship breakup to the loss of their car keys.
Spend time with loved ones
Spend time with people who love and care for you. Let them know you are in pain and need support. If you find your family and friends aren’t able to support you the way you need to be supported, forgive them and seek additional help.
Consult a life coach or counselor, or read a book about someone who has gone through a similar situation. Elizabeth Lesser’s Broken Open or Dr. Robin Smith’s Hungry which recount devastating loss and redemption.
Many times, we wait until we are at rock bottom before we admit we are struggling. It doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to be at the end of your rope, hanging on to the knot, before you seek help.
Take your time, but hurry up
Don’t let anyone rush you through your grief. There is no time-table for emotional healing. Depending on the severity of your loss and how it affects you, some remnants of grief may stay with you forever; but only be triggered on anniversaries, birthdays or in other situations that remind you of your loss. That is ok.
However, don’t use your grief as a pass to resolve yourself to a life without passion, excitement, joy, peace and contentment. Make a concerted effort to use your time to feel your way through your pain. It’s been said that time heals all wounds; but, time heals nothing.
It is what you do with that time that makes the difference. If you don’t want to be happy, inspite of your loss, you won’t be. Time might lessen grief’s intensity, but, you’ll never quite be able to fully open the shades of your life and let the sunshine through.
Feel better with EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)
Consider using EFT to release your emotional pain. EFT is often referred to as “psychological acupressure.” It is the repetition of a script while tapping the end points of energy meridians (the life force) situated just beneath the surface of the skin. For a chart of the EFT tapping points, click here.
EFT Tapping Session: Loss of a loved one (video)
EFT Tapping Session: Depression, fear, despair, powerlessness (video)
Turn your grief into positive action
Consider turning your grief into positive action. Many people do this. For example, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was founded by founded by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver and the Amber Alert was born out of the January 13, 1996, abduction of nine-year-old Amber Hagerman.
Your positive action doesn’t have to be something grandiose for it to be meaningful. It can be as small as a local 5k or charitable donation that honors your loved one. Taking positive action doesn’t mean you ignore reality. Just because you choose to do something positive, doesn’t mean you no longer love the person who is no longer with you. It just means you are choosing not to suffer anymore, and that is ok.
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