ANSWER: One step at a time.
You have to be intentional. Grief does not happen on it’s own. You must be intentional. From my own personal grief and the many people I have walked through the grief process with I have learned a few tips. The important thing is to get started, be intentional and do a little bit at a time… A friend of mine regularly says… “How do you eat an Elephant? One bite at a time.” The same principle applies here. One step at a time down your path of grief to healing and health. YOU CAN DO THIS… it hurts… I will never say it doesn’t but just start… one step at a time.
Finding Your Path…
I want you to begin looking at grieving like a journey… Grief is a journey. There are good days, bad days, hard days and days you don’t want to face. But the truth is that we have to keep moving on this journey. We have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. One day, one minute at a time. This is a journey, not a destination. Some people feel that one day they will wake up and just be better… that rarely happens, but there are landmarks along the healing journey that we remember that provide the motivation to keep moving.
It is critical to take time to grieve. This sounds simple, but many times we avoid the very thing we need to do. It is so important to set aside time to think, process, cry, mourn, wail, laugh… whatever you need to do to get your feelings out. You MUST get them out in a healthy way. So take an hour a day or a week or every few days to let the feelings come. It is helpful to have a journal, a box or something that you can take out and open and close to symbolize the start and end of your time. Let’s say you chose to grieve from 4-4:30 each day. You take out your memory box which can have things that remind you of the person or loss. Cry, express, think. Then close the box when you are done. That symbolism keeps you from being overwhelmed and the grief taking over. It is important to get things out without the grief becoming overwhelming. That is why it is important not to do this exercise right before bed. Do not purposefully think about your loss right before bed.
That may sound like a strange tool for grief. But it is important to have several people that you can call when you are hurting. These may be friends or family. Have it set up ahead of time, asking their permission to call them to talk about your loss. It is important to have more than one person, so you don’t exhaust one friend. One of the things that turns grief to depression is isolation. So be around people. Go to a coffee shop. Plan a movie night with a friend. Join a book club. Start some new interests. Not all of your life revolves around your loss. Just being out and about will help keep depression at bay. Again, be intentional about being social… nothing happens without a little effort… social connection takes effort.
Develop a Grief Project
One of the best tools I have found in grief is to have a project that you can remember the person or loss in. Build something. Create a scrapbook. Write a song or a poem. Go on a trip in their memory. Doing something active can help provide closure. Be in the moment while remembering the past. Something tangible that you can actively do to help channel your feelings, thoughts, and heart. Be creative. This is where your loss takes a positive side. This is where you turn your pain to potential and you see a glimmer of hope at the end of a dark tunnel.
Keep your heart open to God. It is so easy to blame God for our losses. Keep communicating… keep talking to Him. He is the ONE who fully understands your grief and has walked where you are walking. Keep seeking peace. He will comfort you!