Grief and loss are inherent parts of life. No one is spared from facing the emotional and physical pain of accepting the death of a loved one. Too often, however, we maximize our pain due to a lack of understanding of the reality of major change and common problems adjusting to life without a loved one.
Here are seven rules that will help in the challenge of facing the inevitable changes that will be faced and reorienting towards a new and different life.
1. Never allow thoughts to become actions without your full consent. Negative thoughts permeate most loss experiences. We tend to look back at what we lose and forward at all the real and imagined obstacles we have to face. This occurs in an atmosphere of fear and confusion that maximizes our concerns. Then a universal law comes into force: what we focus on expands. In this case, fear grows and the obstacles seem insurmountable. There is nothing wrong with being afraid when facing the new and this is how you can deal with it.
Full consent always implies deliberation. Deliberation means reasoned dialogue and thought. Meet regularly with people you trust to share any concerns and solicit feedback on their thoughts. Let out fear, guilt or loneliness. It is not easy to do, but the results will be essential to make the right decisions and deactivate limiting beliefs and fears. Doing the right thing will require courage that you can muster with the help of friends. Use them humbly.
2. Be open to new ideas, assumptions, and beliefs. Loss challenges our beliefs about life and death. Tort is a time when reevaluating the way we’ve been taught life is, usually has to be challenged. There is more to its mystery than our little version. For most, there is a lot to learn, especially how to accept impermanence.
Big life-changing events often cause us to examine our values and put things in perspective. Revising beliefs will also bring new meaning to loss and an easier reinvestment in life. In reality, loss is a great teacher of the importance of relationships, humility, and gratitude.
3. Allow failure to be seen as a normal part of good coping. Accepting failure as a tool to learn always breeds success. Having been used for centuries, it is as true to coping with loss as it has been with some of the best inventions.
Keep in mind that we are programmed early in life to expect immediate success or to feel that we are not up to the task. Examining where we make mistakes and acting to correct them is the way to go. View failure when grieving as a friend, as part of your education about loss and life.
4. Start reconnecting as soon as possible. Loss and the emotions that accompany it are powerful isolating forces. Isolation especially hinders your ability to adapt and accept the new conditions of existence. Everyone needs a variety of connections; they are safe lifelines. Do This: Strengthen connections to your faith, friends, work, and mission because it’s critical to reinvesting in life and developing new routines.
New routines are an absolute necessity due to the absence of our loved one. Turn these new routines into new habits, which is an important key to coping well.
5. Cultivate solitude on a regular basis. Take time each day just for you. This is just as important as building your circle of interpersonal relationships. It is a moment of positive state that leads to comfort, increased spirituality, and a creative coping with your great loss.
Find a place where you enjoy being alone, a particular room in your home, an area in a park, on the beach, or in some other natural setting. Give yourself permission to take a break to cry or listen to calming music. Take a walk on your own. To meditate. Meditation will reduce your stress and raise your energy level. Give yourself a pep talk. Do what is best for you.
6. Trust your inner knowing. This resource is rarely used consciously. So listen to what your intuition and your body tell you about the choices you need to make and the direction to go. You have wisdom within, if you take the time to be honest with yourself and listen. Then force yourself to take that first difficult step in addressing whatever issues you may be facing that day.
When discouraging thoughts begin to surface, take steps to stop the downward spiral by asking yourself, “What do I do now?” Listen to what emerges from your intuitive treasure trove, trust it, and reverse its direction. Keep repeating this new action.
7. Make the “D” word the cornerstone of your new life. Determination is a commitment you can make. Talk to yourself and say that you are going to be victorious in this difficult adaptation. Write specific inspirational phrases on a 3 by 5 card that you can pull out and read when you start to feel down.
Then combine your self-training with getting up and moving to another room or going outside when things seem unmanageable. Consider calling a best friend or developing a method (believe any affirmation) to interrupt the thought pattern that causes discouragement. With conscious determination you can redirect the emotion.
You can work on all of the above, one rule at a time. Remember what was said before: what you focus on expands. This is not only valid for fear and negative thoughts. It is just as powerful to visualize yourself meeting and successfully negotiating a particular problem. It is valid to focus on a positive memory or a memory of gratitude. Those positive events will expand in importance and help in your transition.