One of the issues grieving people all deal with is the What Now? questions left in the wake of the death of someone we loved. I am reading a good book called Grieving With Hope and I am finding some good insights in it. I may from time to time share some of those thoughts in this space. Like today.
Part of the confusing and depressing aspects of grieving comes from this issue of our changing life and changing circumstances. Trying to make sense of it all can leave us exhausted mentally and physically. “Death did more than end your relationship with your loved one; it also ended life as you knew it.” That pretty much sums it up. But lets break this down into some FAQ’s for finding your way through grief.
1. Who am I? Are you trying to hold on to your old life while being forced to adjust to your new life? Do you feel the need to change things but you are not sure if you should or if you are allowed to? Have you adopted grieving as your identity? Working your way through this mess is critical to moving on in life.
2.What should I be doing now? You may find yourself doing things because that’s what you always did but finding that you don’t enjoy doing those things now. You may find, to your surprise, that you find things interesting that you never did as a married person. You will find that trying to force yourself into a broken mold will only bring you disappointment and depression.
3.Making Adjustments. Your new normal is not odd, it’s normal. It is different but not abnormal. You did not choose to be where you are but here you are anyway. Many things in your life will remain the same. But some things will and need to change. Once you stop fighting change and wallowing in self-pity you can adjust and move forward into a happy life. Gratitude can help here.
4. Asking for help. Are you proud and self-sufficient? Then you need to learn to let people help you. Are you lost or floundering with “simple” things? Ask someone for help. Grief is not a self-help program. There are people around you who would love to help if you would let them. Now is not the time to become irresponsible just because life has changed.
5. Start with small steps. You don’t have to completely renovate your whole life and change the world. But some changes are good. It is not disrespecting your dead spouse to start new traditions. Set yourself some small easy to accomplish goals and see how you do with them. Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself. Spoil yourself.
6. Handling the firsts. the first year after someone dies can be the hardest in many ways. Every event or holiday or special event will be tinged with sadness for a while. But in time those days won’t hurt as much and will be fond memories instead.
7. What’s normal? When someone dies part of grieving is mourning the loss of a life that is gone forever. Not just the person who died, but the life you shared with them. It will never be like that again. A new spouse will be different in so many ways. It is not fair to someone to ask them to replace the one we loved for so long and then lost. Learning who you have become and what you enjoy and all that this new life contains is one of the things in life that keeps it vibrant and interesting. Don’t get stuck crying over spilled milk. There is much to enjoy in the life you are living right now.