Try this tried-and-true way to cope with the death of a loved one
Do you struggle with confusion and a loss of meaning in your life? No idea where to turn or even want to try? You can be sure that others have faced this point of despair and yet somehow managed to overcome this terrible barrier. How was it possible?
There are many things to consider when dealing with the difficult changes brought about by the death of a loved one. A good approach is to recognize that all areas of your life can be affected in some way. So begin the task of finding some balance and stability by tackling what is the most daunting challenge you face right now. To accomplish this, examine how grief attacks these four areas of your life.
1. Emotional. What emotions overwhelm you? Is there anger, guilt, hatred, or feelings of utter devastation? Do you feel pressured to be alone or fully responsible for your young children? Are you firmly convinced that you will never be happy again? Examine your thoughts very carefully and try to find one or two emotions or thoughts that seem the most difficult to deal with. Be specific. When you are alone, take a pen and paper and write them down.
2. Physically. Think about what dealing with your loss has done to you on a physical level. Is your energy level at an all-time low? What contributed most to this feeling? Lack of sleep? Too much caffeine and too little solid food? Has an old injury or condition suddenly resurfaced? Are you fighting a cold? Forgot to take your medicine? Again, carefully weigh the most important factor that contributed to your physical condition at this time. Now write it on your list.
3. Social. Often the death of a loved one causes us to withdraw. In addition, emotions such as anger, depression, and guilt are isolating emotions and often keep friends and family at a distance. What is the nature and effectiveness of your support system? Do you have good listeners or people who are always trying to correct you? Are you contributing to your isolation by refusing to come out or pushing people away with what you say? What is the number one need that you expected your friends and family to meet but didn’t? Review your social and support needs and select the most important ones to address. Put it on your list.
4. Spiritual. We often think about the cause of death. Why now? Why him/her? Or what have I done to deserve this? Sometimes our faith and spiritual beliefs are shaken to their very roots. We blame God for not hearing our prayers and allowing this to happen. Have you forgotten that you are not alone and that love will prevail? Are you afraid to let your Higher Power see you exactly as you are because of your loss?
Even though you are in deep pain, you can still be the answer to someone else’s prayer. What do you need to do to reclaim your daily spirituality? The new meaning of life? Decide where you are with your spiritual beliefs and your loss and what is missing. Again, put it on your list.
You now have four or five needs on your list from the four areas of your life that have been affected by the death of your loved one. The next step is to prioritize them. What should you tackle first? Once you have chosen it, begin the work of grief immediately. Decide who you need to help you tackle your top priority. Decide what information is needed to collect. Next, and most importantly, what specific behavior should you initiate. Let “one need at a time” be your motto. Tackle the first priority, then the second, and so on.
In summary, there are no secret steps to an instant cure. Each grief is unique and the work of grief is highly individual. But you can get an idea and direction on where to start and specifically where you need the most help. This is where to start your comeback. Reach out, just a little. Refuse to retreat. I persist. Time is not a healer – you are your healer. You can overcome your great loss.
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