Replenishing Yourself After Grief

Replenishing Yourself After Grief

Bad years happen, and I'm sure everyone out there has had at least one or two. You know the years I'm talking about: the blows start and keep on coming, and you really start to understand that old "when it rains, it pours" cliché.

Has life dealt you a really bad hand? Or several really bad hands? What can you do to come back after that? While I'm not an expert, I have personally been dealt a couple of rough years, and here is my story about how I've been replenishing my life after some pretty grief-stricken times.

I Only Wish It Were Fiction

2008 and 2009 were my years of grief. My father-in-law passed away weeks before Christmas in 2008. My mom, who was my rock and lifelong number one fan/coach/cheerleader, succumbed to cancer in 2009, just about one year after getting a stage-4 diagnosis.

Then, in the summer of 2009, my forty-two-year-old brother-in-law suddenly fell ill, was diagnosed with lung cancer, and died about a month later. Words really cannot express the intense turmoil of emotions that I experienced during that time period and for several months after the dust finally started to settle.

Coping Your Way

You name it, I felt it. There were all ranges of rage, tremendous sorrow, helplessness, fatigue, and even relief. I cried more than I thought it was humanly possible to cry; we're talking gut-wrenching sobs I thought were only to be found in Oscar-winning roles. After the initial shock of each loss began to sink in, and after the "official" mourning of wakes/visitations and funerals, my life fell into a kind of going-through-the-motions routine.

I learned, though, that there is no set process for grieving and coping with loss. As the old John Lennon song goes, "Whatever gets you thru your life, it's alright." If your grief is marked by many tears, or even if tears aren't forthcoming, it's okay.

Grief is as individual as, well, the individual going through it. There is no set process, so if you are grieving, try not to get caught up in what you feel like you should feel. The loss brings enough pressure and stress on its own without heaping on more.

Time's Not Up!

It has taken me some time to get back on track after that disastrous trifecta of '08-'09. I honestly feel that this past year has finally started to once again feel like a life with a future.

This healing process has taught me to appreciate another cliche: "Rome wasn't built in a day." Getting back to you should have no time limits or restraints; there really is enough to deal with without the added stress of thinking, 'I should be a lot better by now.' Give yourself time (and I mean ample time) to work through life in the aftermath of a loss. Take the time pressure off of yourself.

Talk It Out

When you feel up to it, sharing your story of loss and all of the emotions associated with it can do wonders to help ease you back into life. Rest assured, it really is okay to check in with a professional to (as my brother nicely puts it) get a psychological cleaning.

Not only does a psychologist, psychiatrist, or counselor have the training and credentials to guide you through your own personal journey, each is also an impartial third party with whom you can share every thought or feeling you may not be able to share with others. Pastors or other clergy can also be good go-to, talk-it-out sources.

If at some point you find yourself struggling to get back to you and to life after a bout of grief, give yourself some time. Try not to add any pressure to yourself with "shoulds." Find someone and talk their ear off about the sea of feelings within you. Give yourself time, and understand that you can replenish after grief.

Here, on Memorial Day, we welcome you all to share your own stories. Feel free to tell us about your own path with grief, share a favorite story of a loved one, or offer tips on how to get through a difficult loss.

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