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April 2017

Don’t do This when Living in Stages of Grief

Almost fifty years later, we are still talking about the stages of grief first described by the Kubler-Ross model. The Kübler-Ross model postulates a series of emotional stages experienced by survivors of an intimate’s death, wherein the five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The model was first introduced by Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying, and was inspired by her work with terminally ill patients. Upon reading more about it, you find them not be distinct stages and can overlap or not happen at all.

I don’t dispute the validity of the findings but I have found this description lacking especially as a new widow. I disagree with the myth of “Don’t do anything for a year after a major loss”. I believe we can be self-determining way before a year. I even subscribe to it being healthy to make decisions that positively lead you in making goals and finding your path in your new life. I was forced to make big decisions about my life starting from the day after my husband’s funeral. Looking back on it I am glad. I would have hated to be in a holding pattern for the last year.

I have learned so much about myself and how to make good decisions. I’ve made mistakes but this is how we learn. I have recently seen a presentation by Paul W. Young, the author who wrote The Shack that is now a movie. He said his grandson approached his son and asked, “Do you think Jesus ever made mistakes?” The son replied to the boy, “What do You think?” After the boy thought about it a few minutes he said, “I think he did, because how else would he have ever learned anything” Out of the mouths of babes, right!

Self-determination is empowering and I think modern women who become widows are up to the task. We are not fragile and hysterical as we were once described in the past. We are strong, know what we want and know what we must do to get there. So, you want to know what not to do in Stages of Grief, this is what has helped me.

  1. Don’t wait

These emotional stages are not something you journey through to graduate out of grief on the other end. Waiting does not decrease the pain and loneliness of loss. Find your path as soon as you are able and act on it.

  1. Don’t get stuck

Do not just keep doing the same things in the same old ways as if this will bring your loved one back or somehow you will get used to it without them. You can find innovative ways of doing things and enjoy these new ways.

  1. Don’t be afraid

Don’t be afraid to try new things and add them to your routine. New things are so important.

  1. Don’t let things go

Trying not to face some things will not make them go away. Face your dilemmas and make positive decisions to set up your new life on course toward your goals.

These things have helped me continue to be directed and purposeful in my decisions, goals and plans as I go forth in new uncharted waters. Live with productivity and purpose and it will make a significant difference for you too. Let me know what has helped you on your journey.

4 Ways to Get Unstuck after Loss with Grief

 

Do you ever feel stuck, especially around the holidays? To most of the world they are called traditions, but for us living with grief there is a hole where our loved one used to be. So, in keeping with my theme of everything new, I have come up with new traditions around the holidays. Being comfortable around new friends, taking chances of sharing around new situations and surroundings is important. I often feel stuck and not just around the holidays. Feeling as if things must be done a certain way because that is the way I have always done them. But then you realize things don’t have to be done a certain way. Today they are going to be done a new way. Because ultimately things are not going to be the same even if you act in the same way. That is what I call being stuck. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing now to then or this to that. It’s just different and different is good. This is what has helped me live a positive life after loss and has helped me in getting unstuck.

 

1)      Do something the opposite of how you usually do things at least once a week.

 

Surprise yourself with flowers and wine. Go to that party. Enjoy your friends. Whatever you decide looks like living again and living for yourself, do that.

 

 

2)      Every week I plan to include new things

 

I love learning so I try to include something new every week. Maybe something new to learn or something new to do. The way to keep moving forward is through the path of newness.

 

 

3)      Make room for happy memories

 

I refuse to let my memories of my husband be fraught with only guilt and regrets. I choose to remember the happy times and let them warm me.

 

 

4)      Have a plan but also go with the moment

 

I am a planner in every way. I plan each day and my week. I know what I will be doing and what needs to be done at all times. But as we all know, nothing ever goes as planned, right? I have learned to embrace spontaneity that my husband always brought to the relationship. Now I create spontaneity and enjoy life in the moment, sometimes taking the road less traveled.

 

I don’t necessarily think this makes me brave, it’s just having learned the value of life and what little time we have. I’m not going to waste it wallowing in sadness. That’s not what my husband would have wanted for me either. I have a new life, not the one I asked for, but the one I choose to make each day with my choices. It’s okay to be a little excited about that because when I was younger things seemed to be going along without me choosing. There is still a lot of life left to live.

 

Let me know what makes you feel stuck? What are you going to do about it? Share some of your suggestions or things that have helped you.

 

“We’re the Ones Who Live” from The Walking Dead: Living Beyond Death with Grief

 

This quote from the “Walking Dead” has a lot of meaning, especially for Widows. We are the ones who live usually beyond our loved ones. I’m glad we are not dealing with the zombie apocalypse but we cannot deny that we are the survivors. If you are not familiar with it, “The Walking Dead” is a wildly popular American television show about relationships with the background set in the zombie apocalypse. There are some similarities with loss in the zombie apocalypse in that we go through shock with a surreal existence at times. We bring those that have died with us through our life, which is a theme throughout the “Walking Dead”. There are often setbacks as well as victories. Somedays I am strong and others I hide. Just as in the show we must accept the fact of our loved one’s death and push forward to survive. This surviving may look like going to work or taking care of other loved ones, doing mundane tasks or taking over tasks we never thought we would have to do yet. We are fighting for our life daily.

 

I don’t have all the answers but I am on the journey with you all as readers. We can be the ones who not only survive but thrive in our new life and adventure. It’s all about healing and attitude. The most recent episode of the “Walking Dead” featured self-sacrifice for other loved ones. Maybe the other loved one is just us sometimes.

 

Some things to think about:

 

1.       How are you taking care of you, to help yourself live strong?

 

2.       How are you taking care of others? Does this bring you joy?

 

3.       Are you grateful for the love you have had in your life?

 

4.       What is your plan?

 

5.       What are your goals?

 

Great, more questions, right? It was months after my husband died that I decided I wanted to live again. So, I figured I’d better get on with it, one step at a time. I am grateful for my new life as well as grateful for being loved in my old life. It’s important to learn from all experiences, good and bad. Except I’m not sure how we determine that they are good or bad. I’ve learned through my children that I am the lone decider now. Although I did not choose it and sometimes I don’t want it, this does provide a certain amount of freedom to create my future and that of my family as well. Hopefulness is achievable and works well with your plan and goals for your future. Not everything can be planned for though and those are some of the best spontaneous moments at times.

 

Overall my best advice continues to be “Live strong, stay long”. Until next time… What are your thoughts? Feel free to share with us.