Grief hurts, that’s a fact. It can be debilitating and it can lead to depression if you become isolated and unsupported.
Grief gives you the time to honour an important person, be it your spouse, your child, your sibling, your friend or your parent. Life without them will be a major adjustment and coping with this takes time.
So how do you move back to living with hope again?
You have deep personal losses and on top of that, the media portrays tragedy after tragedy. Do you deserve to be happy in the face of this misery?
There’s a common term called “survivor guilt”. It is simply the guilt that survivors have. You may ask yourself “why was I spared?” or “could I have done anything to stop this happening?”
Psychology Today offers ways of moving beyond survivor guilt. Firstly, ask yourself who was really responsible.
Sometimes the answer will be clear. At other times, there will be no clear answer. Thinking it through will help separate feelings of loss from the burden of blaming yourself.
The second suggestion is to let the sadness come.
Sometimes focusing on guilt or finding someone to blame is a strategy to block out feelings. You can cry, rant, hit your pillow or whatever works for you but know you are strong enough to handle the sadness.
Another suggestion is to let the survivor guilt spur you on. You may feel you have less time to make an impact. You may wish to be kinder. You may wish to emulate some of your loved one’s best characteristics.
Grief can lead us to make sudden changes such as moving house or quitting a job. Sometimes these may be regrettable. Grief counsellor and author Mal McKissock recommends not making any major life changes within the first six months of loss.
On the other hand, grief can lead to a time of reflection and foster inner changes. Here are some strategies to help you move forward when the time is right.
When you suffer a major loss, some friends won’t know what to say or do. You may find yourself exhausted by their caring questions or, on the other hand, neglected by their absence. Try not to have expectations. Similarly, avoid having expectations of yourself. “I should be over this by now”. Grief is not linear. It will take the time it takes and it will revisit you.
Live your life in tune with your beliefs
Mahatma Gandhi said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Don’t be swayed by media or social pressures, but be true to yourself.
Be thankful everyday
People who are grateful for their blessings have stronger immune systems and better longevity. They are also more outgoing and more forgiving. By noticing the positive things in your life, you train your brain to see more positive things. Your gratitude and contentment start to build.
Remember the bad stuff
Sometimes we get locked into complaining about small things. By remembering the difficult times you’ve been through, you can remind yourself of how far you’ve come. You realise your strengths.
Do what matters
Death reminds us we all have an expiry date. This can motivate you to do some things that are important to you rather than just meander through your days. Take time to make a list and go from there.
Kendall Morton is Director of Home Care Assistance Sunshine Coast to Wide Bay. Call 5491 6888 or email kmorton@homecare