Dealing With Grief: Tips for Processing Our Pain
This week I lost one of my favorite people. After a year-long battle with cancer, Mary went to be with Jesus. She was a dear friend, a mother figure to my husband and I, a grandmother figure to our children, and a strong support system. She could talk me down when I was irrational, lift me up when I was discouraged, and crack me up at a moment’s notice.
Grief is powerful. It can carry us through a whole wave of emotions – anger, bitterness, denial, and eventually acceptance. It’s a suffering of the mind 0 and often much harder to overcome than physical pain. While we will always feel the loss, there are things we can do to help us process and work through our pain.
Say What You Need To Say
The last long conversation she and I had was about how to make elephant ears. Had I known that was the last long talk I’d have with her, would I have talked about elephant ears? No. Can I change that conversation? No. What I can do is say what I need to say – now – even though she’s gone.
While I’m not sure what I believe regarding what our loved ones can see or hear from the other side, what I do know is how healing it can be to say the things we needed to/wanted to say. Talking or writing down our thoughts can help us process our emotions – helping us work through our feelings as we come to terms with our loss.
So tell them. Tell your loved one who has passed on what you wish you’d told them while they were on Earth. Have the conversation you wish you’d had – even though it will be one-sided. Get it out. If you feel uncomfortable speaking out loud – write it down. Say what you need to say – even though they’re gone.
Make a List
When you lose someone you love, start a list of everything you remember. Write down the details. How did they smell? What did their laugh sound like? Write down the things you did together. Recall their advice, their humor, and their kindness.
Stopping to write down your memories is not only healing, but can serve as a tool to work through your grief in the future. When my grief is triggered in the future, I can look back at my list and recall what she taught me, what I loved about her, and how she made me laugh. Tears may come as we remember, but the mere process of remembering can change our tears from those of despair to those of fond recollection. Start today. Write as much down as you can remember – before things are forgotten. Hold on to what you can.
Attitude of Gratitude
When we lost our baby five years ago, I wasn’t sure I could keep going. On the advice of a trusted childhood mentor, I began keeping a list of things I was grateful for each day. There were times when I didn’t want to and days where I struggled. But, without much thought, I was able to keep a list of three things I was grateful for each day. Shifting my focus from what I’d lost to what I had was instrumental in my healing. It didn’t take away my loss, cause me to forget my pain, or stop the tears. However, the simple act of taking stock of the blessings around me (both big and small), helped give me perspective and keep me from living in “the dark place.” When we can recognize goodness, beauty, and positivity even in the midst of our pain, we can keep going. We can get out of bed when we understand there are things worth getting out of bed for.
If you are walking through a time of loss, my thoughts and prayers are with you as you begin or continue to work through your pain.