Heartbrokenness is your memory.
Contrary to former beliefs about grief, it is not something you “get over” or “pass through.” Stages of grief do not form the rungs of a ladder that you must climb to get to the top, where you are then free and can fly away from the sadness. We all must learn to fly with our grief, which will transform us and will become the way we carry our loved ones with us throughout our lives. Carrying those memories do not have to become a burden and they do not have to weigh us down.
Grief ebbs and flows. Your heart is not on a timetable. You will not be “done” grieving at some definitive point in time. Rather, grief is a life-long process with peaks and valleys. While your pain will not always be as constant as it is in the beginning, there will be times throughout your life when your grief will be quite intense. So, you have to take really good care of yourself, talk with people you trust, feel your feelings, and be gentle with yourself. Give yourself permission to cry and laugh to remember the joy and acknowledge the pain, and trust that healing is happening even when it doesn’t seem like it.
Here are some questions I will ask you concerning your grief:
- Tell me something about your history with grief.
- What feelings do you remember having at that time and currently?
- How has this death impacted you physically, cognitively and spiritually?
- Did you attend a funeral or memorial service?
- How have you been attending to your grief since that time?
- What issues are you dealing with as a result of the death?
- What brings you comfort in your grief?
- How do you see your grief changing over time?
We will talk about and navigate through the following tasks of mourning:
Accepting the reality of the death:
Although you know intellectually that the person has died, you may experience a sense of disbelief. Integrating the reality of their death means “taking it in” with your whole being.
To process the pain of grief:
Grief is experienced emotionally, cognitively, physically and spiritually. People may be telling you: “Get over it; move on; be strong.” In contrast, one of the aims of grief support is to help you find the safe expression of all the natural grief reactions.
To adjust to a world without your loved one:
External adjustments include taking on responsibilities and learning new skills. Internal adjustments are made as you adapt to your new identity.
To find a way to remember your loved one while embarking on the rest of your journey through life:
Gradually you create a balance between remembering the person who died and living a full and meaningful life.