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There are many layers connected to the loss of someone you loved. It isn’t just the person we grieve; it is everything associated with the life we shared: the fun times, meals together, the friends we associated with, and the sharing of everyday life. There were times of serious discussions or debates around differences.
It was knowing that someone was there who shared your life, even when there was no conversation or when one of you was away from home for long periods of time. It is that comfortable resting spot of knowing you are not alone even when apart – that familiarity that complements and completes both lives. You planned together, fought together, and considered options for your future together. You bounced ideas off each other for almost every aspect of living.
Loss is not just the removal of someone who was important to us – it is the loss of everything in life associated with that loss.
In an article by Amelia Nierenberg in The New York Times, she writes how hard mealtimes are for widows. Another grief counselor suggests that food and cooking might be considered the “sixth stage of grief” if we still considered stages of grief.
Because so much of daily life is centered around food, whether in preparation, socializing or time spent eating together. Food becomes an overwhelming trigger of what was lost.
Grieving is more than accepting and coming to terms with what has happened.
When a loved one dies, in many ways we die, too.
Every part of life is impacted: social circles, friendships, family relationships, spiritual, finances, where we live, and careers.
Grieving is not just mourning – it is picking up the shattered pieces of what was a significant part of who we were and creating a new existence that holds meaning, purpose and substance.
As we better comprehend what learning to live again really means, we recognize that what we are experiencing is normal and natural. Bereavement groups have begun for men as well who struggle to make sense of life after the death of their spouse. They are encouraged to talk about the things that trigger that grief which also include food.
As hard as it is for widows to fix meals for themselves, it is equally as hard for males. It is encouraging to know that we are not alone in sorting through the many pieces connected to loss.
While life is never the same, it is important to know that we can find ways to make life meaningful again.
As I mention in my book, Learning to Live Again in a New World, grieving is more than just recovery, it is finding ways to rebuild your life. It is developing new relationships and finding something that has meaning.
There may be things from your past that you would like to do again or things you always wanted to do.
It may be stepping out and trying something new you hadn’t even considered before. While each person’s grief is unique to them, their backgrounds and personalities, there is a commonality to all of them that in some way connects us together.
We need more than just talking about our pain and feelings to heal.
Recovery is not a step-by-step process that leads you from one place to another in an orderly, sequential fashion. It is going in and out and back and forth, working through the twists and turns of conflicting emotions and unanswerable questions.
It is leaving behind, putting fond memories in place and in the process realizing you do have the strength, fortitude and ability you didn’t know you had to move forward – you will be okay. You can make it. We will struggle with letting go of what we had, but eventually are able to close one chapter and start another.
Losses can be an opportunity to truly discover that you do have the fortitude and ability to create a new meaningful life.
As you move through this journey there will be tears and sadness and questions and fears and anxiety because you are stepping into the unknown. But there will be times when we recognize with gratitude the blessings that associated with it. It also is a time when you become emotionally, spiritually and psychologically stronger.
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