Grieving is coming to terms with those losses. It is finding a way to reconcile unfortunate or tragic events. If we hurry from that ending before putting to rest emotional turmoil and unanswered questions, it can make it difficult to create a new beginning.
When I began this series on “Picking up the Pieces,” I asked you to consider the stories you tell and become aware of the narrative you use. The way we describe our circumstances can make a difference in completing an ending and beginning a new chapter in our lives.
Like you and many others, I have had significant losses over the years. I lost both my husband and son to cancer, faced the sale of my home, loss of financial security and starting over again.
In presenting workshops and classes and facilitating support groups, I have come to appreciate the depth and scope of people’s losses and their grief. And it seems at times that losses come in bunches, with barely enough time to recover from one before we are hit again.
7 things to consider completing an ending
- We need the support and understanding of others while working through grief. That may be in a support group, individual counseling or a friend who will listen as we share.
- Grieving is going through the pain. It takes time to work through the knots and tangles of our losses. There is a tendency to run away or bottle up painful emotions hoping they will go away.
- Ungrieved losses from childhood can be triggered and need to be recognized and processed. Grieving early childhood losses means working through issues of lack of nurturing and lack of encouragement. It involves releasing old bottled up hurts. Grieving involves recognizing whatever we have lost and finding ways to replace it.
- Losses produce a multitude of emotions — some more common than others, such as anger, guilt, or shame. Recognizing and working through these is important to keep from getting stuck. There won’t always be reasonable solutions to our questions. You may feel that you did not receive justice where there was an injustice.
- There are many layers to our losses. The death of a spouse includes the loss of your social circles, loss of what had been predictable and sometimes major financial concerns. The loss of an unborn child means a loss of sharing with other parents raising children. The loss of a marriage has many layers that are ongoing reminders of what used to be.
- Grieving takes time, involves acceptance so we can let go, reconciling things that can’t be changed and working towards a new reality. Losses require a new way to look at ourselves. In a sense, we are creating a new identity – I knew who I was, but who am I now? Losses aren’t processed in just a few months or even a year. That transition from what was to what is now takes time.
- Write a letter of goodbye. First, if you lost a loved one, write a letter to him or her and tell them how much they meant to you, what you wished you had said or hadn’t said, what you miss most about them and what is the hardest for you moving forward. Include in this letter how you are keeping your memories alive.
Do the same thing when you address other things you lost such as a dream for the future, loss of the ability to be a parent, your health or physical abilities. While it might seem weird, writing a letter can help you put down all the positive things associated with your loss and how holding on to dreams have made you a wiser and better person. .
It is important to know that while we feel vulnerable and emotional; our tears are not a sign of weakness but of courage and strength. Acceptance of what has happened allows us to take the next step of transitioning to a new reality.
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