There Is No Right Way Or Wrong Way
The Only Certainty In Life Is Death
Grieving should never be limited to the loss of just our loved ones and friends or our beloved pets. In my experience grief is an emotion triggered by any significant loss, a job, finances, a relationship, the ability to care for one’s self, anything we attach a value to.
A little about why I believe we must feel and honor our grieving……
My father passed over eight years ago I have good days and I have days that are much more difficult to get through. I experienced many of the stages, some I tucked away. The shock of his unexpected passing took my breathe away literally. Denial all I can say is “that poor doctor”. I threw quite a few adult sized fits at many people. I bargained like it was nobodies business and like I was making the deal of the century. Anger became my friend, my buddy, my pal, if I stayed angry I couldn’t feel sad. Guilt was heavy, if I smiled or laughed I immediately condemned myself. “how dare I !!! “Shame on me” The puss went on my face and I refused to be happy. In time I was less stringent on myself and pushed the desire to be miserable away at times, but never stopped being angry. I accepted Dad’s passing because I honestly had no choice, I can assure you I wasn’t happy in the least to have to go on and pretend everything was normal. All of this hostility I decided to live with led to illness. Brain Cancer and Pulmonary Embolism my new companions. My attitude was I’ve got this nothing could be worse than losing Dad. Not the case at all, Unfortunately. The entire tumor could not be removed and left me unable to move my right leg. I soon found out that I would have to undergo radiation and chemotherapy and would be sent to a rehab facility of my choice. I remained hopeful that I would regain full mobility, it was not until I came home that reality set in. I couldn’t bathe myself, I couldn’t drive my car, I couldn’t go back to my job, I had to relearn what always came so easily to me. I couldn’t handle stress at all or do basic math. The radiation and chemo wasn’t as bad as I had imagined with the exception of the hair loss. That threw me over the edge that I was teetering on since Dad died. All the anger and resentment that I did not deal with came back ten fold. My desire to live was not there any sense of peace was gone, I prayed everyday to not wake up. It became very apparent that death was not an option for me. Yes, I am left with having to go threw all that grieving again, the anger, the bargaining, the depression, the shock, the denial and most importantly Acceptance. I couldn’t have gotten through any of it until I found forgiveness for myself and everyone else. In order for me to find forgiveness I had to realize I did not know what I didn’t know. And in that alone forgiveness became easy. My spirits started to rise and I began to find peace in my life again and I began to make progress in my recovery. I still have moments of mush brain and there are days I am very tired. My awareness of self and all things are at a level that has put me in a position to help others in a way at one time I couldn’t help myself. As hard as my Dad’s loss was it led me to a place in my heart that I am at peace with.
Below are the most common stages we encounter when grieving. I will not number them simply because as we are all unique in our individuality so will be our process of grieving. People often think of the stages as lasting weeks or months. They forget that the stages are responses to feelings that can last for minutes or hours as we flip in and out of one and then to another. We do not enter and leave each individual stage in a linear fashion. We may feel one, then another and back again to the first one.
We can never replace what has been lost, but we can make new connections, new meaningful relationships, New beginnings. Instead of denying our feelings, we listen to our needs; we move, we change, we grow, we evolve. We begin to live again, but we cannot do so until we have given grief its time.
Before a loss, it seems like you will do anything if only your loved one would be spared. “Please God, ” you bargain. After a loss, bargaining may take the form of a temporary truce. “I promise to be better person, Please can I wake up and realize this has all been a bad dream?” We become lost in a maze of “If only…” or “What if…” statements. We want life returned to what is was; we want our loved one restored. We want to go back in time: find the tumor sooner, recognize the illness more quickly, stop the accident from happening…if only, if only, if only.
The feeling of disbelief is this really happening. I believe Shock is an emotion we feel regardless of it being sudden or expected. When we have loved one’s suffering from an illness we want nothing more than their well being and restored health. We know in our hearts that the only way they will have peace is for their suffering and pain to end. We often Pray for that. I believe this is a selfless act of Love.
We often find ourselves in a state of denial when a loss is unexpected,a sudden loss of any kind. our world can become meaningless and overwhelming. We try to Find ways to just get through the day. Denial becomes a coping mechanism to not feel. Life makes no sense. We go numb. We wonder how we can go on, if we can go on, why we should go on. We try to find a way to simply get through each day. Denial and shock help us to cope and make survival possible. Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief. It is the Universe”s way of letting in only as much as we can handle.
Often bargaining’s companion. The “if only’s” cause us to find fault in ourselves and what we “think” we could have done differently. We may even bargain with the pain. We will do anything not to feel the pain of this loss. We remain in the past, trying to negotiate our way out of the hurt. As we begin to live again and enjoy our life, we often feel that in doing so, we are betraying our loved one.
We usually know more about suppressing anger than feeling it. Be willing to feel your anger, even though it may seem endless. The more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal. There are many other emotions under the anger and you will get to them in time, but anger is the emotion we are most used to managing. You may ask, “Where is God in this? Underneath anger is pain, your pain. It is natural to feel deserted and abandoned, but we live in a society that fears anger. Anger is strength and it can be an anchor, giving temporary structure to the nothingness of loss.
Depression feels as though it will last forever. It’s important to understand that this depression is not a sign of mental illness. It is the appropriate response to a great loss. We withdraw from life, left in a fog of intense sadness, wondering, perhaps, if there is any point in going on alone? Why go on at all? Depression after a loss is too often seen as unnatural: a state to be fixed, something to snap out of. The first question to ask yourself is whether or not the situation you’re in is actually depressing. The loss of a loved one is a very depressing situation, and depression is a normal and appropriate response. To not experience depression after a loved one dies would be unusual. When a loss fully settles in your soul, the realization that your loved one didn’t get better this time and is not coming back is understandably depressing. If grief is a process of healing, then depression is one of the many necessary steps along the way.
Most people don’t ever feel OK or all right about the loss of a loved one. This stage is about accepting the reality that our loved one is physically gone and this new reality is the permanent reality. We will never like this reality or make it OK, but eventually we accept it. We learn to live with it. It is the new norm with which we must learn to live. We must try to live now in a world where our loved one is missing. In resisting this new norm, at first many people want to maintain life as it was before a loved one died. In time, through bits and pieces of acceptance, in time we see that we cannot maintain the past intact. It has been forever changed and we must readjust. We must learn to reorganize roles, re-assign them to others or take them on ourselves. Finding acceptance may be just having more good days than bad ones.
Many of us are raised with certain belief systems that stem from our ancestors. There is no wrong in that however, We are fortunate to live today in a world that spirituality and religion are separating themselves. Is any one belief wrong, I don’t believe so. We must be open minded to all things we must not live in a world that we are closed minded to all the universe has to offer us if we are only willing to put forth the effort to expand our conciseness we can have everything we desire. Be brave, Be warriors and forge a path of unity with all this beautiful universe wants for us.
by Maria Meeker