As you have been trying to navigate your way through grief, you may have been introduced to what are commonly known as the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
These five stages are a theory of how we grieve, but your reality may—and probably will—feel different.
Grief is the normal response to loss of any kind. Each of us have attached ourselves to something and somebody. You could be attached to your job, your health, your lifestyle, or even your identity. You most certainly are attached to your loved ones. If you’re attached to something and you lose that something, you grieve. Always.
Grief is not orderly and it does not unfold necessarily in stages. It is unpredictable, uncertain, messy, and unsettling.
Even though loss is inevitable, and sometimes even predictable, we still are shocked when it happens. We may have learned as children never to talk about death, to bury our feelings or pretend as if nothing has happened. Or perhaps as we grow up, we may not have acquired the proper tools to help us move forward after a loss. Maybe our faith tradition tells us that the departed are in a better place, or that everything happens for a reason and there is a grand plan in place. But what if none of that eases the pain or tempers the sadness that the loss leaves in the lives of those left behind? And what happens when it doesn't take away feelings of guilt and anger that are part of the recovery? You can choose how you will deal with grief and create a space for hope.
You can decide to do grief differently, to take this experience and use it to create a new life.
You no longer are the person you were before your loss. Something significant has changed and now you have a choice to make about how you live the rest of your life.
You are NOT alone. There are many people who have been down the path of grief before you and they have completed their journey stronger, more compassionate, and with a completely different perspective on life.
Allow yourself to transform through the grief. Take it slowly and allow the truth to sink in. Feel free to relive every detail of your loss—the sights, sounds and smells. Ask yourself what you might have done differently. And then move on.
Don't allow any part of the experience of loss to hold any power over you. You undoubtedly will have strong feelings, but you are not those feelings. You are not anger. You are not guilt. You are not sadness. You are not your thoughts. These feelings will diminish with time and with your commitment to healing.
You are stronger than you think you are, you may already have walked through fire, and you can do it again and again and again, if necessary. It's all part of the recovery process. Use the tools outlined in this book to put grief behind you. Choose to live in the present.
Decide to nurture yourself and stay focused on healthy daily habits. Practice mindfulness and learn to find your place of peace and calm. Repeat your chosen affirmations with consistency and conviction. Use talk therapy to help make sense of what you’re feeling. Get outside yourself and chose to make a difference in the life of someone who could use your help, experience, and insights.
Write your story, even if you are the only one who will read it. And continually remind yourself that you are your choices!
Just as broken bones should be properly set to heal, so must the emotional heart. Time will not heal your wounds, but what you do as time passes will help you complete the pain caused by your loss.
I survived the traumatic loss of someone I loved very much and found the tools to live a happy life again. I hope that by sharing what I have learned, I can help you through the recovery process and make your journey a little easier.