Monthly Archives

March 2017

3 Ways Our Choices Matter After Loss and Living with Grief

 

 

 

I woke up this morning pondering what a psychologist friend of mine recently told me, “We have complete 100% control of our actions in this world”. This made me examine how there are parts of my life I chose and others that just evolve. I’m still pondering this statement and I realize I am different because some things I made definite decisions about, but then there are just things over time that have become part of me. I do things differently. I think differently. Somethings are no longer out of the ordinary but now routine. For example, I no longer shop at Grocery store A with sometimes Grocery store B, but after Grocery store B for 2 months straight. I can say I shop at grocery store B. That’s who I am now. I know this is small but it made me realize how many things are just different because they just are.

 

Maybe it’s the control freak in me but life doesn’t feel like I have complete control. Intellectually I know I cannot control everything around me but I can control me. Are we deliberate in our choices? I know that after my husband died I have felt deliberate and decisive. Some of my choices are easy and some are very hard. Sitting outside on my steps and looking at these clouds, I think about the clear choices and the darker ones. These are a few things I’ve learned about choices. I hope these reflections help you make your choices.

 

1.       Do we confuse the darkness of loneliness with smaller needs like boredom?

 

I was feeling quite down lately, then I realized I had being working a lot. I thought maybe I’m just entertainment starved so I made a chose to do fun things on a whim. It totally changed my outlook.  It’s weird that we must discern this on our own now instead of bouncing it off our significant other.

 

2.       We are always making choices big or small.

 

Things are changing in our lives all the time. You can ride the waves or be the lifeguard. We are evolving through the choices we make whether we notice or not. Live deliberately. Have a plan. Set your goals

 

3.       We are new because we no longer live in the past.

 

We don’t live in the past and we can look at this as opportunity with resolve or wade in lost possibilities. Maybe something better than we could have ever imagined is around the corner. We build forward with every choice. Try to be clear and thoughtful about what you want in your life and who you want to be.

 

Choices can be scary and wildly exciting when we carve our own path. Choices matter. I am exploring some new possibilities that I would have never seen if not for the terrible loss in my life. I’m grateful for the love I had with my husband and I am grateful I am still here. Something I would not have said a few months ago, before now. I hope these reflections help and you can spend some time pondering your choices.

 

3 Ways to Live Strong after Loss with Grief

At my husband’s funeral, I cried hard, so hard I could barely stand. I turned to my daughter grabbing her arm and whispered “Don’t let go of me”. A few days later I was told I had to be strong by well-wishers. Since then I have been told I am strong. What is strength in the face of great loss? When I think of strength I think of something steadfast and holding up something else. I know what it feels like to feel lost after loss. I know what grief feels like. I do not know that I can say I know what strength feels like. You go on mostly on automatic pilot because you have no other choice but to do so. It is like being birthed into a new life you did not choose.

But the good news is you can have a strong, positive life after loss. Strength to me has become charity and happiness is service. Strength is holding up others and it makes you stronger too. These are a few things I have found that have helped me on my journey of grief and healing.

  1. Do what you must do each day, even those things you do not want to do.

I had to take on new roles since my husband was a stay at home Dad. I jumped into things head first because no one else was going to do them. This was very different for me since I constantly over thought ever decision.

  1. Do for others. There is joy in this and less time to worry about yourself and your life.

I have found a new purpose through charity and service. Pick something you feel passionate about and get more involved. I promise this will make you feel better and propel you into something good for your life.

  1. Do something new.

This one is very important. This can give you back a since of control of your life. Things are different now, there is no denying, so choose a good positive new for yourself. I have found myself going “Wow, I would have never done this before”. It builds your self-confidence and lets you know there is still light in your life.

Ultimately strength is what you build in your new life with new goals and purpose. But you know what, I have also found, giving yourself forgiveness and grace, letting go of guilt and living for yourself again is strength too. You are stronger than you think. Even if you don’t feel it. You are living strong as you move forward though uncharted territory. Some days I feel like a whirlwind changing the world and other days strong just looks like having quite time and slow reflection. As you reflect on what it means to live strong, you can know you are doing just that every day. Let me know what strength means to you.

 

4 Ways to Deal with Guilt after Loss and Grief

 

Guilt can be destructive. Guilt is meant to teach us something as a healthy emotion to learn from it and move on, but it is weaponized in loss, against ourselves. We have guilt for what we think was our contribution to the loss. We have guilt for what we should have done to avoid the loss. We have guilt when there’s a moment we are not thinking about our loss. We have guilt that we are not happier around our friends. We have guilt, if God forbid, we laugh or have a happy moment. That is a lot of guilt. But just knowing that it is being destructive and unhealthy for us can help us to let it go.

 

It’s like a learned bad habit that’s not easy to give up. I am living with grief and have lived through guilt. What has helped me to literally shake it off is replacing these negative thoughts with positive ones. It’s good to think of yourself in the future, in a positive way, perhaps around a goal. On your journey, you should feel the guilt in the beginning, to work through it. It’s not healthy to deny it or try to subvert it. But I think you can make healthy choices to reconnect with others in your life and repurpose your life for better things.

 

I am a widow. It is always part of me in memories of my loved one. But I will not let it define me, because I am so much more. I am new forged by fire and looking forward to living and loving more with better relationships because of my journey not despite it. What is your guilt teaching you? For example, my guilt has taught me not to live in the past, how to make better decisions, to let go of controlling everything, and to embrace my weaknesses.

 

1.       Do not live in the past

Replace the trauma television images in your head of the death with loving memories of your relationship and life together. Choose to play the happy memory television images and keep turning the channel back to these images.

 

2.       How to make better decisions

Perspective is everything. You probably view life and death differently now. Use this to make better decisions to love more and live your life more fully.

 

3.       Let go of controlling everything

You cannot control life and death. You could not control what happened no matter how many “ifs” you use in your thinking.

 

4.       Embrace your weaknesses

I’m not perfect and that’s okay. No one is harder on us than ourselves. Give yourself some grace and love which includes forgiveness.

 

These are some helpful tips to get through guilt and live a positive and impassioned life again. Give yourself some time to try them and do the work of healing. Embrace your guilt, lean into it, learn from it, then let it go. You’ll be glad you did and I know you can from experience.

 

How to get Back to Basics: 3 Steps to Successful Living after Loss and Living with Grief

Most of the time we who have lost a love one try to maintain sameness in every other aspect of our lives. We struggle to keep up our schedules and our routines as if nothing has changed. After trying this for months with only somewhat of success and lots of frustration and crying. I have found these tips to be helpful and I am sharing them with you. These are 3 steps to successful living after loss and living with grief.

  1. You must create a new daily routine

Part of living forward after loss is creating a new life for yourself. Whether you are ready to accept it or not, it is still a fact that your life is different. What motivates you to get out of bed? Maybe you need to find a new motivation for getting out of bed. One of the first things I did was create a new morning routine. When the alarm went off I jumped into my new morning routine. I’m still working on becoming a morning person, so my morning routine is simple: Bathroom, feed the cats, brush teeth and hair and make my bed. By then I am awake enough to follow my daily plan. Just committing to this small piece made a big difference for me.

  1. You must have new goals

Part of grieving is mourning what your life was supposed to be before your loss. You don’t have to plan the rest of your life, just set a couple of short term goals. What am I going to be able to accomplish today or this week? You will find this gives you a sense of regained control of your life that can sometimes feel like it is spinning out of control.

  1. You must celebrate small victories

Even small things I accomplished by myself, especially those things my husband always took care of usually, were big steps for me. Acknowledging your small victories and giving yourself a virtual pat on the back, can be huge in confidence building, that you can succeed in this life even if it wasn’t how you would have liked or planned. Try to come up with some new ideas for celebrations preferably experiential rewards not necessarily material things. Some things I have done are going to Jazz Ensemble performances and live NBA basketball games. Opening yourself up to new experiences help you to grow and you don’t have to worry about placement of something material or dusting it in the future.

These are basic steps and small gains. I believe it takes getting back to the basics and rebuilding yourself with new routines, new goals and small celebrations that help you grow into your new self and your new life. When living your life with grief, you can still be growing and making your own purposeful changes into what you want to keep living for in the future. In everything you experience and in living forward, you bring your loved one with you and are living the life they would have wanted for you.