I will say, without a doubt, that grief is one of the most difficult experiences any of us will face in life. The idea of taking a break from grief does not in any way minimize or make light of its intense pain, effects, or significance. I recognize the deep and complex impact of grief that follows loss. In fact, its fierce and powerful characteristics are exactly why we need to take a break from grief.
Posts Tagged ‘grief journey’
Anything that gets in the way of healing from grief is a concern, but certain issues are especially critical, complex, explosive, or unpredictable. I describe these subjects as ‘flashpoint’ issues because they hold the power to block your path to healing, to derail your progress.
Everyone’s grief is uniquely his or her own. Each experience is different, just as each person, personality, past, circumstance, and everything about an individual is unique.
Sometimes, certain issue(s) override everything else as you face your loss—and these issues can become the rocks that block your progression toward healing. Different circumstances will force particular issues to the forefront, issues that are somehow attached to, or emerge from your loss. Some examples are isolation; fear; anger; guilt; ‘Why?’ questions; victor/ victim; and “Do I really want to get well?”
In facing my own loss, flashpoint issues took me by surprise, either because they were so contrary to my own personality—or because I was shocked that they showed up as part of my grief.
Millions of people around the world are mourning the sudden death of Whitney Houston and trying to take in the reality of something they cannot believe is real. For Whitney’s family and those who love her the most, the pain is beyond comprehension. My heart breaks when I think of what her daughter Bobbi Kristina, her mother Cissy, her ex-husband Bobby, and others closest to her are going through right now, because I’ll never forget the unspeakable pain I lived through fourteen years ago when my husband John went mountain-bike riding and never came home. Tragedy strikes—and we are overwhelmed by grief.
No one is prepared for death, even if someone is sick and isn’t expected to live. And when death comes unexpectedly, we feel even more helpless and confused. Grief is not something we think about until we come face-to-face with it, and by that time, it’s too late. We’re thrust abruptly into grief, we don’t have a clue what is happening to us, how to respond, or what to do—and at some point, we’ll know we have to find a way to navigate the fear, confusion, and uncertainty of our personal grief journey.
Misunderstanding surrounds grief.
A friend shared something with me that changed his life. Last year he started a gratitude journal. All year long, he’s written something in his journal each day. Even on the worst of days, he’s been able to find things to be grateful for.
Before going to sleep at night, he thinks about his day and records his gratitude in his book. Each time he writes, he starts out by saying that he’s glad to be alive! He almost died. That experience changes the way you think. Some days my friend also begins his day by writing in his gratitude journal.
Have you hastily jumped to a conclusion during grief (or just in your daily life), later learned you seriously misjudged a situation, action, or person’s intention — and then realized your rash judgment created a division you could not completely restore? What a devastating realization!
During grief, be aware that emotions run in high gear. And certain times, such as the holidays, can trigger reactions that are uncharacteristically intense. Your thinking may be a bit unclear. So, with these things in mind — stop and think before responding (or reacting) instinctively to whatever situation you meet.
Have you faced obstacles — mountains to climb — in your grief journey? Sometimes we get so lost wandering around the mountains (and counting all the things we’re up against) that we forget about what lies beyond them. When grieving stay focused on your goal of healing!
Your mountains may be fears that cropped up in response to your loss. Your obstacles may be financial, or they may concern changes in your relationships with family or friends. You may be struggling spiritually or feel that you’re all alone.
When grieving, particularly during the holidays, our first reaction is to think about what we’ve lost. Holidays are special (and emotional) times of the year, and of course, our thoughts focus on the people we love. If we’ve recently lost a loved one, or experienced another type of significant loss, the holidays bring pain rather than joy, and anxiety rather than anticipation.
What I’m going to suggest will take conscious effort on your part, but when you change your thoughts — your attitude (and emotions) will follow. This season, when you find yourself dwelling on all that you’ve lost, immediately refocus and think about at least one blessing you still have in your life. And then, another one …
Pretty soon, your thoughts will be headed in an entirely different direction because your mind cannot concentrate on both the positive and negative at the same time.
Yesterday morning my husband and I watched a documentary about 9/11 on television. The filmmakers captured the horror, disbelief, terror, confusion, and utter devastation of that day as well as it’s possible to do on film. However, I couldn’t help but think there’s no way any of us who were viewing the program could really know what it was like to be in New York on the streets surrounding the World Trade Center ten years ago on 9/11. And we couldn’t know the experience of those who had loved ones directly involved in the tragedy — and who watched and waited to learn their fate as events unfolded.
We can listen as people tell us their personal stories about 9/11, and we can relate to the way our world has changed and the feelings we share, but we’ll never feel what those folks felt that day — or appreciate all they’ve had to cope with since then. That’s the way grief is. No one understands as does someone who has suffered a similar experience.
You may experience a few changes or many. Your circumstances will determine which internal and external changes occur — and how much they will affect you. They could be physical, emotional, financial, or spiritual ones, and possibly changes in relationships.
When your world turns upside down, no wonder change follows right behind. At first, change is staggering and maybe even paralyzing. I just want you to know what to expect.
I also want to assure you that your grief journey is a step-by-step process. Try not to take on too much too soon. You’ll find your own pace. I’d like to lend a hand.
© 2011 Judy Brizendine
I have a pair of work boots that I used to wear on job sites to keep my nice shoes from being destroyed. We never knew what we would run into on construction sites—drywall mud, paint, dirt, construction debris—or just about anything! So I tried to keep my work boots in the trunk, just in case. The grief journey is kind of like that—you never know just what you’ll run up against or how something will affect you at a certain time.
My work boots were comfortable, sturdy, ordinary, no-nonsense shoes. And well- worn. They were made for work. Certainly at times grief felt like hard work—and I felt worn-out and a little ragged—just like my work boots.
At other times, something would happen to really lift my spirits and give me hope— kind of like my red suede slip-on loafers. Comforting. Positive. Someone would call just to let me know they’d been thinking about me. Or a friend would offer to help with something I couldn’t do by myself. Optimistic shoes—like a grief day touched by the reassurance that everything will be okay again.
Not every day during grief is a ‘work boot’ day. Thankfully, there are some ‘red suede loafer’ days, too!
What kind of grief day are you having?
© 2011 Judy Brizendine
It’s great to meet you. Take a few minutes and look around. See what’s here.
This blog is about hope and inspiration. It’s about help. It’s about seeing the beauty that’s all around you, even if you can’t see it right now. It’s about finding a way to smile—and know that you are not alone. It’s about getting you to believe—really believe —that you will make it through grief. And that life will be good again. But it takes effort on your part. You have to believe in yourself and really want things to get better!
You’ll find truth here. I won’t pull punches. I’ll tell you about things I learned the hard way. I want your path after loss to be easier than mine was.
Let’s make this journey together. You don’t have to do this alone.
© 2011 Judy Brizendine