The third step in developing an attitude of creative indifference toward grief is ACTION. Before you implement an action plan, you need to know that there is no cure for grief. It is a process. You don’t get over it, but with time and effort you can get through it.
Over the course of the next several days, I will be writing about a variety of action steps that could be helpful. Today I’d like to start with suggesting you eliminate the words “normal”, “expectation” and “judgment” from your vocabulary for a while.
Wherever you are today, and whatever you are feeling right now is okay. Don’t set expectations for yourself. Don’t judge yourself, and don’t let anyone tell you what is or isn’t normal.
Many wonderful books have been written about grief. Elisabeth Kubler Ross is considered one of the foremost experts on the topic of death and dying. She defines the five stages of grief as denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Her work is brilliant, and I believe it is common for most people to go through all of these stages, but it is also important to remember that every person’s path through grief is profoundly personal.
My husband said he felt like he was living on the rim of a spiral. There were days when he felt like he was doing fine, and then he would hear, see, smell or think of something, and suddenly he would find himself being sucked all the way down to the bottom. In time, with the guidance he received through the Hospice Grief Counseling Program, he spent less and less time at the very bottom of the spiral. There were moments when he’d still get pulled down, but instead of going all the way to the bottom, he would land somewhere in the middle.
No one else knows your heart or the depth of your sorrow. Friends and family will try to console and encourage you. They may say some incredibly stupid things in an attempt to help. So while you are trying to be patient with yourself, you might also try cutting them a little slack. This is a hard time, but trust that the intensity of your pain won’t last forever. You will never forget, but you will come through this.
Come back tomorrow and we’ll talk about how ceremony can help a person heal.