There are no short cuts to the grieving process. Sometimes, we stuff our feelings because we think that if we allow ourselves to cry, we will not stop.
The opposite is true. Stuffing our feelings and denying them simply prolongs the grieving process. We need to allow ourselves to feel what we feel by talking and crying.
It is important to take care of ourselves by watching what we eat and drink. Since alcohol is a depressant, we need to limit how much we drink and why we use alcohol. Another excellent way of taking care of ourselves is a regular exercise program. When we exercise, we feel that we are doing something special for ourselves and that we have some control. It also helps with working through depression.
We should avoid staying home and isolating ourselves. Even if we do not feel like getting out with friends - do it anyway! It is good for us. Sometimes, we make the mistake of trying to avoid our painful emotions by being busy. Anything that is stuffed gets stronger and can come out with force.
Sometimes our friends will be reluctant to talk about our deceased for fear of upsetting us. We need to bring up the decease's name and talk about him or her. When we do this we are giving permission to talk about our loved one and it helps others to know what we need.
Some of us may elect to go to counseling and this is good. It is also helpful to become a part of a grief support group. In these groups, there are people who have walked in our shoes and have empathy. They also give a caring audience to work out your grief as well as offering you ways they have found for coping with loss. There is are wonderful groups that meets at some churches in the area.
Preparing for holidays and anniversaries is important. Plan to be with family or do some activity that is refreshing for you. Sometimes, we get through the days we know will be difficult but are blindsided by unexpected events that hit us. For example, at a convention, I remember seeing an elderly couple who reminded me of my father and mother. The grief came right up to the surface.
For me it was one of those unexpected times. Just because those moments happened doesn't mean that we have not worked on our grief. It just means there is more to process. The good news is that when grief does come to the surface unexpectedly, it will not last as long.
Truthfully, we will always have a hole in our heart for the loved ones who have died. The good part about that is that we will never forget them. Our heart keeps us connected.
Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.
Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700