Because I only vaguely saw the terrain I was traveling through during The Haze, it all looked the same. It felt the same too. Yet when the mist finally started burning off I could see I was no longer in the place I’d started. The hard work had made a difference!
What did that hard work look like? It is only years later with some distance between us that I can see clearly the things I worked through that made the greatest impact. There are several so I’ll tackle one each day.
First things first. It’s critical to not only know, but feel and own that your loss is valid. The emotions, feelings, experiences, regrets and the whole ball of wax that come with your loss are yours and yours alone. No one can take them away from you, nor can they validate or invalidate them by placing them on some imaginary scale.
Chances are good people around you and their expectations of you will be contradictory. Some will imply you should still look like you’re grieving harder. Others will subtly, or not so subtly, encourage you to get over it already and move on. This isn’t their loss. Even if you both lost the same loved one you may experience your grief very differently. That’s okay, it’s normal. You are different people.
Your job is to own your loss and your grief for what it is to you. It’s real and its effects on your heart, mind, and psyche are just as real.
And a little tough love… It’s so very easy to fall into wanting to see and experience the loved ones in your life understanding and validating the enormity of your loss. While having the support of those who validate it and hold space for you is critical and goes a long way in providing a safe space for you to do your work, it is YOUR work. Unfortunately, their validation of your grief doesn’t do your work for you. You still have to validate it in your own heart and mind. And once you’ve done that you can get on with the next steps of hard work that I’ll delve into tomorrow.
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This is the fourth installment in a series of articles based on, “Good Grief – Embracing Life and Giving Good Support” a talk I gave on May 22, 2019. You can get caught up by starting with the introductory article here.