I think one of the common elements of grief, deep pain and uncertain times is the inability to trust again. This can refer to trusting others, trusting yourself and even trusting God. I think that trusting again is one of the essential elements of healing. It isn’t easy. In fact it may be one of the last parts of the grief process that surfaces, but it can also be a huge breakthrough.
After Art lost his family in the accident, every part of him was raw and hurting. I’m sure there was little trust for anyone or anything. While he let others give to him and also reached out for help for himself with counseling, once he and I met I could see a fear in him to really love again. It was a process we both faced and worked through together.
A friend of mine lost her husband to cancer. They were very close and his death process was very painful. She lost her soul mate., her life partner and the father of her children. Years later, when she began to think of dating, she felt a paralyzing fear on her first date. She was so used to going out with her husband, that the thought of opening up to another man scared her. She eventually pushed through the fear and we talked a lot about “how to date again.” For her, the biggest step was just letting go a little at a time and not trying to control and analyze every emotion she felt.
A friend of mine lost her daughter to a degenerative disease. She not only lost her blessed child, she lost her faith in the medical system and in herself for some of the choices she had made regarding her decisions to her daughter’s medical care. She talked over and over about how she wished she could have done things differently, or how she doubted various things she had done. Part of what happens when we lose someone we love deeply, especially a child, is that we doubt ourself. If they pass away, we have no where to go with the missing and the pain that often we blame ourselves or others. It is a way to hold on to the memory, the “thoughts” of that person. It’s not healthy, but it is still a self defense mechanism we use. Sometimes anger, fear and blame become a big part of the pain.
Divorce, loss of a job, and other financial troubles can also lead to those feelings. While less severe than an actual death, they are still a very important form of loss.
So, where do we go? Where do we take this fear, this blame or this place where we “get stuck” and move through to a place of love? First, you have to want that. You have to really, honestly want to move to a different place emotionally…and if you aren’t ready then stay where you are and move ONLY when you choose in your heart to move towards trusting and healing.
Secondly, begin to open. If you have a relationship with God, pray to him and pour your heart and soul out to Him. Stay there for awhile. If you are spiritual, meditate. Ask your God or whomever you meditate to, to comfort you. In other words, whatever faith you have, go there! Even if it is nature…get out into it and pour out your heart and start with trusting THAT SOURCE with your heart.
Thirdly, find healthy ways to love and honor the one you lost (or yourself in cases of divorce or loss of job, etc). Find ways to give that remind you of them. Do the things they liked to do. Talk with them while you do what they love. Tell them, and your God, how much you hurt. Learn to trust yourself with your own pain. Learn to honor and love the one you love. If you feel you have made mistakes, talk about it. Write all of your mistakes on pieces of paper and then burn them. Know also, that we all make mistakes and that when you are grieving, one of the most important things we need from ourselves is grace. We have to let go of the guilt, the fear, anything that gets in the way–to get to the real thing we miss, their presence and their love. We can’t get there, we can’t remember all of the good, if we are holding on to all of the pain or negative things.
All of this is so much easier said than done. I can say all of this, and I went through it when I lost my brother to suicide, but the truth is that grief is unique and different for all of us. As Art says, grief has no rules. It is a journey, and an unwelcome one in most cases. I do believe, and found in my own life, that the more I honored Rod, the more I felt my emotions and then let them move through me, the easier it came to let go of my own grief surrounding his suicide. Could I have done something to help him or change his mind? Maybe. I don’t think I did it all perfectly by any means. But I do know now, that I did the best I could at that time. I also know that I love him with all my heart and that I will never stop remembering and honoring him.
Copyright Allison Daily
Updated: June 5, 2013