THE ULTIMATE GOAL IN GRIEF: Embracing A New Life
“Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.”
― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
I know that I have absolutely no choice about the path I must walk in grief. I also understand that I do have a choice in how I cope with my grief, and how I adapt to the loss. Many cope by being “loss-oriented” in their style of grief. The loss defines them. It took me a while in my mourning process to select the good style of grief, which is This type of grief focuses on the loss of Peter, but allows me to rebuild my life. I continue to have moments of sadness and “grief bursts,” but I am working hard at establishing new habits to reduce the power of sadness, so that it no longer overwhelms me. I am choosing to take charge of my life, integrate my lost love into my heart, and move forward to find my new restored existence.
I decided to put this theory into practice. I set up a sheet listing the loss-oriented items on the left side of my paper, and the restoration-oriented ones on the right. On the left, I listed my yearning for Peter, my sadness at looking at his picture, my memories of our life together, my sorrow at not having a partner with whom to laugh, my loneliness, my lack of a husband to help when my meniscus is torn (damn!), and my empty and slightly hamstrung heart. This is the part of grief work that I call the heavy-lifting.
Then on the right side of the paper, I listed the restoration-oriented ideas that help me to move on with my life. and distract me until I can fully cope with my loss. My writing is my savior and a total boost forward in my process. Setting up a website to invite other widows and widowers to talk is a great distractor. My grand kids, period! Cooking a dinner for friends; watching a funny movie (yes, even Bridget Jones Baby made me laugh a little); watching the Acorn TV series A Place to Call Home; walking with a girlfriend; talking to my pals who keep me buoyed with their friendship; popcorn and chocolate ice cream; and finding strength in the fact that I can take care of the finances by myself!
I am sure that a new life will start for me when:
· I will develop new skills, interests, and abilities; as long as it is NOT playing Mah Jongg!
· I will learn to cook beautiful dinners for me, myself, and I.
· I realize that grief is individual and I can choose to go on this journey on my own time table, in my own style, and with the use of humor as a tool. A horse walks into a bar and the bartender says “why the long face?”
· I give myself permission to heal my wounds of grief in a positive fashion. I will try to be positive and cheer lead myself to get through grief.
· I will believe that failure is a form of learning and not get down on myself for “grief bursts.” Self-compassion, Laurie, self-compassion!
· I will be grateful for the love I had, even though I am mourning it deeply. I will try to imagine nostalgia as sweet, and focus not on my deprivation, but on how good it was when our love was alive.
· I will laud my anger for the temporary insanity it brings.
· I will be thankful for the grief that won’t go away, and my fear that it will, and the void that might swallow me up.
· I will appreciate the legacy of kindness that Peter instilled in Nick and now my grandchildren.
· I will celebrate small successes as if they were grand successes.
· I will value living in the now as a precious gift.
· I will refuse to see myself as a victim.
· I will finally fully fathom that Peter would insist that I enjoy the rest of my life.
If I think of the word widow as one letter shy of window, I can look outward through the window of my widow’s soul and move forward into the light again.