What Has Helped Me Cope With Grief as a Bereaved Parent
We who have lost loved ones often feel bereft of all happiness. The solitude feeling of desolation can cause us to go deeper into isolation. As our initial stages of denial and disbelief begin to erode, we are left with the harsh reality of our loss.
I am no expert, but from what I have personally experienced, and from what I have observed over the years of others who are bereaved, this often takes place approximately six to nine months after our loved one has passed on. It also happens to coincide with the time when most of our friends, and even family members, have moved on with their own lives. Then a problem arises if they expect the same from us. This can increase our feeling of being destitute. For some reason, I feel the idea that one should be beyond their grief after a year or so has passed, has permeated our society. The myth that “time heals all wounds” seems accepted as fact by some people who have never had to walk this journey of grief.
It simply doesn’t work that way.
At the onset, we are busy with funeral preparations, finding a grave or choosing an urn — picking out a headstone or whether we want to keep or scatter the ashes. Then the financial burdens can begin to roll in. The “practical” matters consume our time when we often don’t have enough energy to get out of bed. For many, the second year can be much more difficult, as a result.
Yet, our “support system” has often nearly vanished.
We can’t change the way another reacts or responds to our loss, we can only patiently educate. A lack of energy or a clear mind in the midst of our “grief fog” can make our journey more taxing. There are times when we may have to simply distance ourselves from those who don’t “get it.” This too, though, can be a “catch 22,” because it can further add to our isolation. A sweet bereaved Momma said something today I thought was profound, “Child loss isn’t a race — nobody is a winner.” I think that sums things up well.
We all grieve in our own time, in our own way. Some of us might struggle with our faith or question if we could have done something different to prevent such a tragedy. The layers of this grieving process can seem endless, as if we have fallen into some great black-hole of no return. Then, when we finally think we have reached a plateau where things are beginning to level out a bit, something could trigger it all and we find ourselves in our grief once again.
These are some things that have helped me:
1. Set healthy boundaries with folks who simply don’t “get it.”
2. Place myself on “auto-pilot” and set short-time goals that could help me accomplish one positive thing daily.
3. Pay attention to my physical needs — eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water daily.
4. As a believer I hold on to God. I believe he loves me and did not do this to me. Often in my darkest hours I need my Faith the most.
5. Surround myself with people who support me and validate what I am going through.
6. Have hope that even though time may not heal the deep anguish, I can find a way to embrace the pain and move forward taking my loved one with me.
Jude’s book, “Gifts from the Ashes,” is available at Direct Textbook.
A version of this post originally appeared on Jude’s website.
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