Getting Through Grief

We were taught that grief and mourning occurred in stages or phases, occurring in orderly fashion, one after the other and once completed we would be finished with our grief. The work of grief is now recognized as tasks to be completed. We may work at them one at a time, or sometimes all at once. Some of them repeat, and some of them may not be experienced at all. Our biggest need is to find meaning in the midst of our loss. Tasks are things we can choose to do, working through these can bring comfort, peace and hopefully eventually, joy.

Accept the reality of the loss. Accepting the reality of the loss sounds easy enough. We know they died. But every day in God’s good mercy we start all over again and remember. Sometimes it’s when we begin to pick up the phone to call and ask, “What’s for dinner?” Or it’s noticing that gift mom would have really liked, and having to put it back down. Or it’s hearing a certain song on the radio. We remember. Our head knows what our heart does not want to hear! At some point the remember will not be overwhelmingly sad. The heartbreak will start to heal. When? When it’s time.

Embrace the pain of the loss. This doesn’t sound reasonable. What does this mean? Our tendency is to move away from this pain. We work hard at denying it and avoiding it. When in reality the only way out (of this pain) is to work through it. With time the pain will lessen.

Adjust to this new life –without the person in it. This is not a task that gets done and stays done. It’s a matter of adjustments that come up each day. We did not choose this life, but we can choose how we live it. And we can choose whom we ask to help us through.

Reinvest in our lives. While this is a large task and can be overwhelming, it begins almost immediately after the loss. As mental and emotional energy begins to return, we can invest in ourselves and our families.

By Valerie Sanchez, LCSW, CT, – Director of Bereavement