Seriously, it’s been 5 years and you are STILL grieving? Why? Get over it and move on!
One of the most painful things that any human being could have to face is the loss of a loved one. When in the process of mourning, most people would do almost anything to feel better or to somehow escape the pain; even if it is just temporary.
As a Social Worker, I have done extensive research on grief and how to help the bereaved and have gained great insights over my many years of formal training. However, when I lost my 21-year-old daughter very unexpectedly, I found no comfort in the various “How to Grieve the Right Way” blueprints.
While our knowledge and study of grief continues to evolve, it’s important to note that not everyone grieves the same way. I don’t understand why this seems like a unique concept as no two people are the same. Yet, when going through something extremely traumatic, we think a “One size fits all approach” would be in order. What about the five stages of seven phases of grief then? Well, for starters, the seminal research pioneered by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, wasn’t designed to help the bereaved, says Soos. The stages, which are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, was originally a framework for people who are dying—and not those left behind. So, these stages were never designed to be a step by step grieving process for loss.
But it seems that academics and the general population like the 5 stages, so here is my very own 5-point plan for getting over grief.
1.Accept that you don’t know how to do this
Accept that there truly is no blueprint for grieving. Point number 1 of my 5-point plan is therefore that there is no 5-point plan! You are unique, your situation is unique, your grief is unique. There is no right or wrong way to do this.
2.Grief requires grace
Be kind to yourself, because unfortunately, not every well-meaning person is as kind as they think. Comments such as: “You need to get out more” or “He is in a better place” is not helpful in most cases. Be kind to yourself. If you usually enjoy a bath, then bath as often as you like. If you haven’t stuck to your diet during this time, please do not feel guilty! If you need help, ask for help. You deserve some extra TLC.
3.Admit how you feel
As painful as it is, it is healthy and necessary to allow yourself the time to feel your loss and experience all the emotions that go along with this loss. You are suppressing your emotions by putting on a brave face and just getting on with life and as a result, your pain is likely to return again and again.
4.Give baby steps, but DO take a step
At face value it makes sense to tell someone to grieve fully before moving forward. However, in my trauma practice I have found that the longer the process of active grieving, the more top of mind the loss remains. Maybe this is as a result of the pathways in the brain associated with this loss being strengthened by re-visiting the grief over and over again. If, on the other hand, you focus on and contemplate all the positive thoughts and feelings about the person that you have lost, then that is likely to be hardwired in your brain. Then, as soon as you can muster up the emotional courage and energy, take that first brave baby step forward and look for an emotionally gratifying experience.
5.Getting closure should not be the goal
That ever illusive destination that you should aim for, called closure… what is it? Is it a place where you are now done grieving or somewhere where you arrive if you have decided that you are never going to get over your loss so you might as well just suppress whatever feelings come up? How helpful would this be?
Would it not be far more helpful to work towards integration instead of closure? Figuring out how you can integrate your loss with your future. In this way, you experienced the emotions resulting from the loss, you accepted them, you have focussed on the positive emotions and thoughts coming to mind when thinking of the lost loved one and then, you have decided to live again within your new reality.
One morning you will wake up and it won’t hurt as much… I promise. You will feel that the intense grieving subsided and you can breathe again. Although the sense of loss is never gone, neither is my life after having lost my daughter. I chose integration. I chose loving her fully and living my best life with the cards that I have been dealt and guess what… I am happy.
As a fellow survivor of trauma and loss, can I ask you to stand with me against the despair that people often experience after a significant loss or traumatic event? Please go and visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mytherapysa and put a 🙁 emoji and then a 😊 emoji if you too believe that there is a beautiful life waiting for you on the other side of your pain.