Submitted by Danny Mize, Advisory Council member for The Hope & Healing Place
You might scoff and say to yourself, “My grief doesn’t talk… it screams!” But if, between the screams of pain and loneliness, you listen carefully, you may be able to hear your grief speak to you. You may hear things like:
• Grief is a total experience. Yes, it involves the emotional, but also the physical, relational, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of our being.
• Time alone does not heal our hurting heart. It’s what we do with our time during our grief journey that determines when we may feel some better.
• Grief is work. Maybe you grew up hearing that if something has to be done, work at it! There is “grief work” that has to be done… even though we didn’t “sign up” for the job.
• Stuffing your grief doesn’t help. You may find some temporary respite by hiding from, denying, or burying your feelings of loss… but eventually your feelings have to be acknowledged and dealt with.
• Things (and you) will never be the same. “If only I could roll back the clock.” “If only things could be like they were, like they were supposed to be.” Your heart wishes… but reality tells us that, like it or not, we must deal with the changes which are propelling you through your “new normal.”
• Not everyone with “the answer” has YOUR answer. There are so many questions in grief, and so many theories about what one should or should not do. But, no matter how well intentioned our friends and family members are, they can’t direct your path through your grief.
So, where is the HOPE for you in your grief experience? If you open yourself up to listening to your grief, you may also hear things like:
• You can be better. Don’t give up on yourself or turn loose of your hope for the future.
• You can have more smiles than tears. No one can give you a time-line for your grief, but gradually you will notice the difference in your feelings and moods.
• You can still love life and people. You may think that love has left you. While it’s true that no one and nothing can ever take the place of the one you love so much, there can come a rekindling of love for life and people.
• You can experience a “new normal.” Don’t expect to move immediately or quickly from sad to glad; from pain to praise; from hurt to healed. Your current situation is not necessarily “as good as it gets.” Give yourself time to grow into your new reality.
• You can keep living with a “hole in your heart.” The pain of your loss may feel as much physical as emotional. And while your “broken heart” will never completely heal (and be like it was before), you can live with and adjust to the emptiness. Your life is not over.
• You can hold onto good memories of the past while making new ones. Life is not an either or situation. While you can’t live in the past, you certainly don’t have to close the door on the good memories of the past in order to create new memories while moving forward in life.
• You can use the lessons you are learning on your grief journey to help others. As you know, telling a mourner “I know just how you feel” is never appropriate. But someday, you will find opportunities to move alongside another and help them through their rough spots.
• You can invest time and energy in supporting others. Probably not right after your significant loss, but you will know when your emotional and physical energy has returned to the level that will allow you to give some of yourself for the benefit of others. You may want to become a volunteer with the Hope & Healing Place. You could consider helping at your church or local library. You might find your niche by serving senior adults or children. But only when you are ready.
What is YOUR GRIEF saying to you these days? Are you listening?
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