I really like writing about the joy of love and relationships. In my mind, love is the center of our Universe. However, life does happen, and we must face not so joyful moments. Even painful moments. Like the sudden loss of a loved one or partner through some tragedy. Heart attack, car accident, war, a random act of violence...there are many ways that the person we were going to spend the rest of our lives with are suddenly taken away from us.
This kind of loss usually comes as a shock to us. It’s the 2am phone call that we fear the most. Many people have told me, “I just know that if the phone rings at 2am, someone has died”. But, it can happen any time of the day. And we are still unprepared.
All of those pieces in us that plan, prepare and adapt to change have suddenly been shifted. Everything has changed now, except you. Now, you feel a number of emotions all at once trying to find balance in your life.
Grief is a combination of feelings, is natural, and nearly unavoidable. Everyone grieves in their own ways. There are a few things to realize:
* Your feelings are natural and normal - there is nothing wrong with you * You will grieve in the way that your mind needs to move through the shock * Your grief will last as long as it needs to - there is no set time limit on grief
It’s important to accept that your grief is normal, your grieving process is normal, and you will survive it.
Your emotions may include sadness, anger, guilt, fear and a general sense of being overwhelmed. Your system has to cycle through all of these emotions to give them a chance to express themselves, since there was no preparation. You may experience quick cycling through these emotions, one minute sadness the next anger. You could find yourself crying one moment and peaceful the next.
This is all normal, and you are OK. Again, your system is trying to figure it all out and find some balance.
There may be some feelings of dislocation from your normal daily activities. Things you took for granted will take on a different meaning. Having morning coffee with your loved one, meeting up for an evening walk, or talking every day on the phone will all be confusing. Familiar anchors that we create may cause another emotional cycle; seeing our beloved’s coffee cup or hearing the phone ring at the same time you would usually talk with them.
You may also experience physical symptoms during the grieving process. You may find yourself exhausted at the end of the day. Your sleep may not occur normally and you may have difficulty concentrating. You may lose interest in things that you were passionate about and you may begin to withdraw from others. Although, some people grieve by getting more involved in activities and with others as an attempt to “outrun” the emotions.
While all of these involuntary emotional things are happening, there are some actions you can take to move the process along.
* Be gentle with yourself. Set your own limits as to what you can do or get done in a day. Don’t criticize yourself for not getting things done.
* Connect with other people. Others will reach out to you; take them up on the offer. Being around the energy of other people can be healing now.
* Do simple things for yourself that are good for your body. Ask a friend to go for a walk with you in the park.
* When it’s time, and you will know when, create ways to remember your loved one. Writing, creating a scrapbook, walking in a favorite spot of your partner will begin to build those pleasant memories in honor of them.
* Remind yourself that you have a purpose for being here. Call this your own inner spiritual being, however you define spirituality. Your loved one would say that they want you to continue on the path that is your life.
* Find ways to give. The energy of grief can become self-consuming unless we find a way to release it from ourselves. Doing volunteer work or even just random acts of kindness and generosity will begin to move your system back into some balance with the rest of the world.
* Live each day moment by moment. During this time it will be difficult to see the future. For now, see each day as a series of moments. Get through the day, moment by moment, and don’t be concerned about tomorrow.
It takes work to move through the grief of losing a loved one. Our minds and body are struggling to find a new “normal”. It will in time. That is why the saying “time heals”. Give yourself permission to grieve in the way that is important to get you back to some balance. Most important, reach out to love, for it continues to surround you in ways that you can’t imagine. But it is still there.
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