Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and special days always add an extra sense of remembering after a loss. I experienced the loss of my sweetheart last month. To add to that, it's my father's birthday, and next month will be the anniversary of his death. The two heroes in my life.
As a grief coach, all this put me in a place of "practicing what I preach." I'll share with you a few tools that allowed me to arrive at a place of peace and completion. Please know that it is normal and natural to grieve after a significant loss (from death, divorce, separation, relationship, job, money, etc.). Do not suppress this important step on your grief journey. There is the other side, but the only way to navigate this wilderness of grief is to go through it. Also, know that no one can tell you how to grieve because there is no right or wrong way to grieve, and no one can really know or understand the relationship you shared with your loved one.
Here are three tools that I not only use for my grief coaching clients, but worked effectively for me:
- Find an activity where you can give back. I volunteered on Thanksgiving Day at a nursing/rehabilitation center, and I can't express in words the joy and fulfillment this experience gave me. I honestly felt as though this is where I was really supposed to be at that time. I watched the Thanksgiving Day Parade on television with one 98 year old resident, who didn't want me to leave. I visited with another resident who joyfully shared her miracle of healing, and learned that she is a neighbor, thereby manifesting a new friend. As they both offered endless expressions of thanks to me, I found myself saying thank you to them. I left the facility feeling as if I was walking on air. Not to discount my loss, but giving me so much gratitude for being where I was at that period of time.
- Don't feel obligated to do anything you don't feel like doing. It is okay to say "no." Yes, family members and friends were concerned and invited me to dinner. After pondering how to say no, I practiced what I preach, and just told them thanks for the invitation, but I would not be joining them. Don't have regrets. True family and friends will understand. Remember, they are just trying to help.
- Write a letter. Another effective grief activity that I recommend is to write a letter. If the loss was from a death, write a letter to your loved one. End the letter with "Good Bye" and sign it. This will help if you are having trouble with accepting the loss, and this is hindering you from moving through the journey and moving forward.
I can't stress enough to you that the sooner you accept that your life as it was will never be the same again, the sooner you can begin to move forward with your "new life." I recommend grief coaching, support groups, or professional help if you need it. I leave you with one of my favorite quotes. "The hardest part of any journey is taking the first step, but you must keep on stepping."