I remember the first time my grief counselor told me that one day I might find a way to grow from my grief.
I think I blurted out something like, “Grow from my grief? Are you crazy?”
My husband’s loss had devastated me and I couldn’t imagine taking my experiences and actually growing from all the horrible things I had been through since his death. In fact, when my counselor suggested that, it was hard for me to even get through one day without totally falling apart.
In the throes of deep grief most of us only manage to struggle inch by inch through the many confusing stages and sometimes unexpected obstacles that we come up against.
I know I went through so many emotions after my loss, like when I tried to adjust to “you’re not a couple anymore” after almost forty years as a partner. It was particularly difficult when my couple friends naturally began to drift away, and I was stuck with the awful reality of being alone.
It was also painful at times to handle hurtful advice from well meaning loved ones and friends. Battling my way through the probate process was also exhausting, along with handling other business related issues that my husband had been responsible for. Things like car repairs and home maintenance problems were overwhelming, too.
But as I began to adjust to “the new normal” I started thinking about what my grief counselor had said. It was a slow process but with each tiny step forward, I began to feel like I was improving.
It dawned on me that I wasn’t just handling my grief, I was learning to deal with so many new tasks. I was forced to meet challenges after my husband’s death. I stumbled and fell quite a bit but I managed to get up and forge ahead and that meant I was emerging from that dark tunnel of sorrow as a stronger person.
I then understood what my grief counselor had said many months earlier about using my grief to grow. Even though I had to handle things that were unpleasant, I saw how I was growing as a person with each road block I climbed over or went around.
Sometimes as we struggle through the pain, we do have to force ourselves to deal with issues and emotions that we would rather hide from. To me, the aftermath of my husband’s death was the hardest thing I have ever had to overcome.
Of course, a great support system, grief counseling and time helped. But facing my grief, all the issues involved in that process and successfully tackling each new challenge did make me see that my husband would be proud of the stronger woman I eventually became. I feel like I have honored his memory by using my grief to grow.
Updated: March 4, 2017