Dealing With Grief: Isn’t a Year Enough?

There are things that we don’t want to happen but have to accept, things we don’t want to know but have to learn, and people we can’t live without but have to let go. ~ Author Unknown

Grief is as personal and individual as any other part of our lives. And if you’ve never experienced it, you cannot judge with any accuracy. Death, divorce, or some other life-altering event (like loss of a job) can trigger intense, long-lasting emotions.

Do you find that certain times of the year are more difficult than others?
What loss did you suffer?

For me, the beginning of November sneaks up like PMS (one would think that after decades, I would have recognized those signs!), but I don’t realize until it’s past that it was when Mom died. The ‘funk’ has as explanation, but I don’t always recognize it for what it is.

For my mom, the fifth year after my dad died was her hardest. She couldn’t focus, didn’t have any energy. She seemed ‘spacey’, out of it. Eventually, however, the depression and lethargy eased and life went on.

Grief has no time limit. And it often makes no ‘sense’ to your mind. You tell yourself that you should be ‘over it’ by now. Well-intentioned friends tell you the same. Reason says that death is inevitable. Mentally, you remind yourself that heaven is real.

Your emotions, however, respond to all sorts of triggers: a song, smell, or time of day. A spoken word, even a look can trigger those feelings of loss and grief. The sensations can be overwhelming.

Here are a few suggestions to help you deal with those often overwhelming emotions.

1. Accept. Your emotional reactions are real and human. You are normal. Don’t force yourself to be or to feel differently – at least for the moment. Don’t let others tell you how to feel, but do move on to the next steps. Isolation is your greatest enemy.

2. Breathe. Be aware of your body’s reactions and help it overcome the lethargy. Deep breaths are calming and allow your body to de-stress. Play your favorite music, preferably something you can sing along with. Lyrics help refocus your thoughts. Also, sway or dance with the music – movement is healing.

3. Connect. Don’t seclude yourself. Grief and depression try to pull you aside and make you feel isolated. Call a loved one or dear friend and meet for lunch or coffee. Stay connected.

4. Distract. Purposely plan a get-together, dinner or some other low-key event to help you through the lonely times (holidays, anniversaries, and other memory-triggering events).

5. Enjoy. Do not let the simple joys of life make you feel guilty. Find ways to add more enjoyment and fun into your life.

6. Faith. Let this be a time to draw closer to God, to receive His comfort and the solace of spiritual rituals and activity. Prayer, meditation and singing favorite hymns strengthen your faith and reinforce your connection to God.

Finding comfort in little things is an essential key to coping with and overcoming the sense of loss and grief. You have lost a piece of your heart. It may scab over, but the scar is always there.

So the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by loss (or you know someone who is), remember, a year is not enough. But by adjusting your life and staying connected to your life-lines, you can cope with the loss and move on.

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