One of the most important things to remember is that you don't get over your loss, you learn to accept it, work through it, and make peace with it.
A Society That Denies The Experience Of Loss
It's not surprising that most of us don't know how to comfort others or handle our own loss. As James and Cherry put it in their excellent book, THE GRIEF RECOVERY HANDBOOK:
"Simple first aid gets more attention in our world than death and loss... We're taught how to acquire things, not how to lose them... the process of losing something feels wrong, unnatural or broken."
Early on, we learn ways of coping with loss that are detrimental to our well-being. Common ones outlined in the Grief Recovery Handbook include:
Another major pitfall is feeling pressured to pretend we have recovered. James and Cherry call this the Academy Award Recovery. They go on to say:
"A false image of recovery is the most common obstacle all grievers must overcome if they expect to move beyond their loss... It could be called, the I'm fine phase, the put on your happy face phase or the be fine for my family and friends phase."
In the end it is much kinder to ourselves to deal with our grief instead of avoiding it.
Dealing With Your Grief
Grief expert Bob Deits in his book, LIFE AFTER LOSS, outlines four key points to remember when you are grieving:
Deits maintains that grief is an honourable emotion, not something to hide and be embarrassed about. He says that grief is both a testament and tribute to the loved one who has died or left.
"Your grief," he says, "is a symbol of your caring and a tribute to the quality of that which is lost. I encourage you to wear your grief as if it is a badge of honour."
Stephen Levine, in his wonderful book, HEALING INTO LIFE AND DEATH, says that we all have grief. And, "grief is that insistent mercilessness with ourselves and a world which we hardly let within. But if we allow our hearts to open to our pain," says Levine, "they will expand into more compassion and openness than we ever thought possible."
Grief pushes you to greater depths, understanding and compassion. It gives you a higher level of "bullshit" detector.
You are more experienced.
You no longer put up with superficial or inconsiderate friends.
You learn to say no to things that are not nourishing for you.
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