A Turning Point In Life
Patricia Andrus, M.S. C.F.L.E., C.G.C.
Someone significant in my life has
died. Where do I turn? What do I do? How can I cope? I've never experienced this
kind of grief, fear and pain. I feel paralyzed and overwhelmed, and I don't see
how I can ever put the pieces of my life into some order again.
I may not make it. My anger has no outlet. I see no purpose in living now. I have
seldom been dependent on others, yet now even the smallest chore seems impossible
I hurt and I cannot understand why other people's lives seem not to have changed,
too, after my loved one died. My world has dimmed as if the candles around me
have gone out. I feel empty, and I am filled with questions. Why did this happen?
What could I have done to make a difference? Will this grief ever end?
This description of the inner turmoil that occurs when there is a death may overlap
our individual experiences perfectly or there may be some differences. But our
personal stories will probably reflect our confusion, disorientation, despair
and loneliness, along with a mixture of other thoughts and emotions.
If we can remember that we have successfully overcome grief from other events
in our lives, we may begin to see some of the coping skills that helped reestablish
comfortable patterns of living. Job changes, moves, illnesses, natural aging processes,
children growing up and moving out, divorce, severe financial difficulties and
tragic accidents are some other sources of intense grief. These may also have
seemed impossible at the time, yet here we are today, albeit changed.
We have acquired an added wisdom and depth that often comes to humans only through
hardship. Even though we may struggle with sadness, bitterness and anger over
the situations that led us to this point in life, we see growth in ourselves.
This will be true again, even though it is hard to imagine now that we'll ever
feel anything but our immediate pain.
Grief is an emotion, a set of complex reactions to loss in life. Mourning is the
outward expression of our grief. It is the outward sharing (through talking crying
and screaming) of our shock, denial, sadness, anger, hurt and loneliness. Even
silence and apparent withdrawal can be ways to mourn. Reaching out to others -
family, friends, support groups, clergy and counselors - is a sign of strength.
When seen in this light, our tears become diamonds, bright and valuable. Our words
are salve for our wounds, helping us heal into wholeness. Mourning becomes our
special time of healing, growing, and changing.
Fully experiencing our grief is the only way through it. We are each unique in
how we mourn. If we choose to stuff our pain away, we may find ourselves challenged
by it later - when we least expect it.
Moving through the grief process takes time, self-trust and self-patience. Being
kind and loving with ourselves is the greatest gift we can give ourselves. As
with other times in life, our healing comes from within. Our inherent strength
is a warm blanket held close to our bodies by comforting arms.