Coping with Loss & Grief

Simple Steps to Recovery

Module 2 page2


Recovery is something that you have to work on every single day and
it's something that it doesn't get a day off
— Demi Lovato


There is a tension in grieving. It is a tension between the need to suffer the pain and the urge to avoid or run away from it.

People run away from pain along common pathways. If intense suffering in grief is avoided, then healing is delayed. On the other hand if a grieving person soon accepts the need to allow the suffering to progress as a normal process, then he or she helps the process of faster recovery. However, if the grief is accompanied by sudden and significant changes to life situation and the person suffering the loss does not receive proper support, then there is the risk of that person becoming withdrawn and very bitter. A grieving person will benefit if he or she is encouraged to reach out to others and to lean on friends, family and professional helpers.

There are common paths that people take in attempting to run away from experiencing pain. These paths include indulgence in alcohol, drugs, travel, work, promiscuity, reckless sports, pleasure extravaganzas, over eating, extravagant living, uncontrolled spending and excessive sleeping

If a person is to recover from grief to a normal life, then it is better that they do it sooner by allowing the pain to be experienced early in their grief. Running away from the pain can bring devastation and increased heartache.

Simple Step 1

Think about the loss
Too often people are told to "put it out of their mind. Don't think about it. Stay away from the house, or out of the room, or don't go near the cemetery". They are advised to avoid any place or experience where memories have to be dealt with.

Don't be afraid of your thoughts Let the thinking flow. For instance, let's say that you drive past a place where you enjoyed a meal with the person who is now dead. Relive the entire experience in your mind. Recall every detail. It is marvellous medicine for your soul.

If you still live in the house where the dead person lived prior to death, go from room to room and think about all the events connected with each room. Maybe the room in which you ate your first meal when you moved into the house; the room where you relaxed and talked and enjoyed music together; the room where the children were conceived; the room where you last kissed goodbye. Take a trip down memory lane through familiar places. It may be daunting at first, but it will prove satisfying and fulfilling. Even though you will probably shed some tears in the process don't be afraid of healing crying.

The thinking process helps us to accept the reality of the loss both intellectually and emotionally.

Intellectual acceptance comes quickly and somewhat easily but emotional acceptance takes time.
Like the time it takes from the applying of the brakes and the stopping of the car, so the news of death or divorce registers in the head rapidly and unaided, but in the heart slowly. Thinking facilitates acceptance.

Simple Step 2

Write about your loss

While you can think through thirty years in about three minutes, it takes much longer to write it down. It is very helpful to keep a journal during the grieving period. Write down not only all the details, but also all the feelings you have. In your journal write down how different life is without your loved one. Tell about the things that help and the things that hurt. Express your anger, your loneliness, your frustration, anxiety, guilt - tell everything. Be very open and honest in your journal. Journal writing slows down your thinking, makes it realistic, and tends to lessen the pain that accompanied your first thoughts.

Simple Step 3

Talk about your loss Choose a person who is a non-judgmental active listener. Begin with the present and talk your way back to the beginning. Talk about the details and the feelings at every stage of your relationship. If the relationship to the person to whom you are talking permits, tell of all the relationships you had with other people before you met the person whom you have lost.

Reviewing meaningful relationships prior meeting the deceased, will open the way to accepting the possibility of having a meaningful relationship after the grief is resolved.

Talking is an essential process of rehabilitation
Talking will help you to gradually experience a lessening of the pain of separation. It is a vital part of the process of saying good-bye. Very often a willing bondage is formed with the person who has died, and talking will psychologically help you to release yourself from that bondage.

Gradually change the pattern of your talking
Turn from continually talking about the deceased to yourself and your future. But be sure that you have spoken about your grief feeling as extensively as you need to.

Simple Step 4

Weep about your loss
Do not choke back the tears. Let them flow. The crying will cease when you are exhausted and this is release. At this stage the body demands rest. Weeping is a God-given release when we are going through times of emotional stress.

"No one cries very much unless something of real worth is lost. So grieving is a celebration of the depth of the union. Tears are jewels of remembrance - sad, but glistening with the beauty of the past." (Dr. J Peterson, 'On Being Alone')

These four steps are no magic cure for grief. It is not resolved in a hurry. Normally the process can be expected to take anywhere from six months to two or three years. So don't give up hope or be discouraged with yourself. Keep on keeping on and your will begin to feel the warmth of the sun in your soul once more.

Discovery . . . Relief . . . Recovery . . . Hope

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