Thursday, February 18, 2010

COPING WITH GRIEF-Surviving Loss-10 Suggestions (Part 1 of 3)

~published by Western Washington University/09.04.2009

The loss of a loved one through death often requires adjustment in our way of looking at the world and our plans for living in it. It is a major disruption in our lives, and people's reactions differ. A positive self-image, an ability to relate easily, a faith to lean on and a willingness to take initiative are ways of being and interacting that can help people manage feelings of grief.

Grief therapist C.M. Parker suggests that the pain of grief is the price we have to pay for love. In a very real way, whenever we choose to love someone, we are also choosing to be hurt. The time comes when we have to say good-bye and let go. That is when our grief begins. As it takes time to love, so it also takes time to let go. People say, ”Time heals.” Yet time by itself doesn’t heal. If a person in grief sits in a corner waiting for time to take care of bitter sorrow, time won't do anything. It is what we do with time that can heal.

Bereaved people may find themselves feeling stranded in their own grief. The following suggestions are ways we can use the time to rekindle hope and healing.

1. Take Time To Accept Death. Facing and accepting death remains a necessary condition for continuing our own life. Often it is hard to realize that what happened has really happened and that life has changed. We hope that it was all a bad dream. We hope that our loved one will call us from work or that we are going to hear that person's voice when we step into the house. The only way to deal with death, no matter how painful that might be, is to accept it, not fight it. Yes, our loved one has died. But that doesn’t mean that we have to die, too. We have to pick up the pieces and go on from there.

2. Take Time To Let Go. One of the most difficult human experiences is letting go. Yet from birth to death life is a series of letting go - sometimes temporarily, sometimes permanently. Letting go reminds us that we are not in control of life, and that we need to accept what we cannot control. Letting go means adjusting to a new reality in which our loved one is no longer present. And yet, many bereaved continue to believe that their loved one has not really died, that life hasn't really changed. Letting go takes place when the “we” becomes “I,” when we are able to substitute the memories of the deceased for their physical presence and when we are able to change patterns in our lives and in our environment. Letting go occurs when we are able to endure and accept the feelings that accompany death.

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