A new year has begun, the holidays have come and gone, and we who have known loss and are grieving, wonder about what is next. What will the new year bring to our lives? Will there be continued sadness and the keenly-felt sense of loss? Can there be some reprieve?
As grief unfolds and continues to be experienced, it can lighten in intensity. The mere passing of time, however, will not bring about this outcome. It is the work and the efforts one expends in processing one’s grief that will result in needed healing and peacefulness. Healing leads to the relief of the intense sadness, the missing, and the sense that one couldn’t possibly go on and know happiness without the loved one who has died. None of this happens in rapid fashion none-the-less.
People go through their grieving and healing processes in an individual time frame and in their own personal manner. Short cuts, however, will interrupt the on-going process of healing. Comparing one’s progress with that of another is not helpful. Comparisons preclude the fact that we are all individuals, with our own personal histories and rate of grieving.
We read and learn about some basic ways of moving through grief, but as alluded to, we each have our own manner and time frame for doing that. We’ll take this opportunity to refresh our understanding of the grief process. What can or should one do to pass successfully through it?
First and foremost is the need to accept the fact that sadness and a deep sense of missing will occur after a significant loss. We cry, we talk about the emptiness felt in our lives, and question our own ability to go on without the deceased loved one. We accept the challenges that come our way early on, and rejoice over our successes in assuming unfamiliar or difficult tasks. Also, we look at priorities so we can ascertain what will now be important components of our lives. Family, friends, our health, our religious beliefs, and our God hold precedence for many. We look at difficult feelings like anger, regret, guilt, etc. and speak of them with trusted others so we can eventually let them go. And lastly, but not least of all, we reminisce. We remember the place our deceased loved one held in our lives. We express deep gratitude for the many ways they have touched and enriched our lives by being who they were for us.
It is important to remember that the sad memories of the grief process will be felt on special occasions throughout our whole lives, but the sad, painful memories soften over time. They are not as difficult to experience as they were in the early days and weeks of grieving.
A new year has begun! We can realize that with the healing energy acquired during past months of grieving we are better prepared for new undertakings, new pursuits, and a new future awaiting the “renewed and healed us”.