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February 2017

Living with Grief: Knowing When to Stop and Go

“With grief” because “through grief” implies you come out the other side or “get over it”. Scientists agree that the experience of loss and grief are the same for several things including loss of job, home, child or spouse. I am of course a widow and will be speaking to that but you can generalize the same concepts to other situations. It’s been one year now as of February 10th, since my husband passed. I don’t claim to be an expert just someone who lives with grief every day. I try not to let it define me but it remains constantly part of me. It hardly seems believable but thriving not just surviving I have found in simple things like sitting at a red light. It tells you when to stop and when to go and this is part of the journey knowing what to stop doing and knowing when to jump in with both feet into something new. Ironically the red-light I am referencing had a Pine St. sign hanging from it. It made me think “What am I pining over?”. It’s not just my husband. There are three things that have helped me the most.

  1. Stop romanticizing:

We tend to remember the perfect person. We put them on a pedestal. No one has ever been as good as them in the history of the world or ever will be. We use it against ourselves like a sword and bring that thought to the forefront of our minds if we have a moment forgetting that we are grieving like falling on the sword or a kick in the gut just as a reminder. Part of acceptance and healing is realizing that they were human with all their faults. Even though, I know you loved them despite of or because of the faults. They did the best they could and you are doing the best you can now.

  1. Stop the guilt of somethings are better:

This is so tough when you find a new opportunity or something great you can do now that you could not do before. You are not supposed to be happy about something or even worse think if this had not happened you would not be in a better place. What kind of terrible person thinks this way? One that is healing and coping remarkably well. Stop kicking yourself.

  1. Go towards the things that make you the most uncomfortable:

This is how you grow and turns your becoming into something great. Studies have shown that the key to happiness is helping others, but it’s okay to help yourself as well. Do something you never thought you would. Set new goals. If it’s scary, do it anyway.

Make yourself give up the bad stuff and for every one thing you give up, add two new great things. Establish new goals because this helps to drive you toward your future and redefine you beyond widow or grieving person. I am sharing what has been working for me during an ongoing difficult time. Feel free to share what has worked for you in the comments.


Trust and New Beginnings

If you have ever held a baby and rocked him or her to sleep, you know that moment when they fall asleep and their body goes limp in your arms. It’s the best feeling in the world because you know that another person trusts you that much. As a new mom, I would wait for that moment and it would give me joy. I recently noticed the same thing with my kitten. I know crazy cat lady right. But he circles on my chest till he is ready then he turns and falls backward into my arms, purring all the time, with complete confidence that I will catch him. He purrs and purrs, then he stops and takes a deep breath, then all you can hear is his breathing. I wait for that few seconds when he stops purring and it gives me joy.
How often do we find that in our lives, when we give it all over, and know someone will be there to catch us? To take a deep breath, be still, and rest. I think it is a necessity it just all depends on where we find it. I find myself asking do I have that kind of trust. Do I have that kind of peace? I’m a very busy person with a very busy life but I have learned the value of just sitting there on that couch holding my kitten listening to him breathe. What is cuter than a sleeping kitten with his small pink little nose, right? I think we owe it to ourselves to find that moment. Is it time spent with family or friends like when you have an epic dinner with great food and conversation where you lean back in your chair and take a deep breath and feel you are right where you are supposed to be? Is it walking along with your certain someone who reaches out for your hand, you take a deep breath and you’re at ease. Is it walking in to your home you grew up in at Christmas time and taking a deep breath while you let your shoulders relax and you feel at home.
For me it was my husband. I would often say to him “Just being near you gives me joy.” With him I was at home always no matter where we were. I did not really know how to explain it. I just knew that it was true. When my kitten fell into my arms for the first time, I felt it again but from a different perspective. I thought it could not be had again and I mourned its loss. Don’t get me wrong I haven’t replaced my husband for a kitten. It’s not that simple but it taught me to continue seeking that joy with and in other people, places and experiences. I put all my eggs in one basket and now that basket is gone. But as I find my way through grief I find there is still joy to be had, sometimes you must look for it and sometimes it’s a quiet as a sigh and leaning back into it, taking a breath and feeling that moment.