Losing four loved ones in nine months turned into a battle for survival. I have spent months on grief work and there is still more work to do. Though 17 months have passed since the first death in the family, there are times - unexpected, surprising times - when I regress. “Did all of this really happen?" I ask myself.
A recent experience sparked intense grief. While I was grocery shopping I met a friend and, as friends do, we compared our lives. She knew my daughter had died, but did not know about the other deaths in the family. My friend kept asking questions and I kept answering them. I smiled when we parted and proceeded through check-out.
Tears trickled down my face as I wheeled the grocery cart to my car. I started to sob when I got into the car. My friends questions had made me go backwards in time and grief was again fresh in my mind. Thankfully, I have learned to spot signs of regression and take corrective steps. Here are some of the steps I take and they may help you.
1. Asking the crucial question. Though I am a grandmother and have years of experience to draw upon, four successive deaths in the family changed me. When I feel myself slipping I ask myself, “Is this really important?" Answering this question grounds me and helps me focus in key issues.
2. Looking for positives. Sadness can obscure the happiness in our lives. I am blessed, for I have a marvelous family, supportive friends, and a new life purpose - raising my twin grandchildren. My grandchildren keep me hopping and I view life through their eyes.
3. Finding comfort in nature. All life, trees, plants, animals, insects, birds, fish, is a miracle. I find joy in watching a hummingbird drink from a flower, seeing geese fly in V formation, and smelling the air after a rainstorm. Nature's miracles keep me grounded and hopeful at the same time.
4. Rewarding myself. Grief work is real, exhausting work. I decided to reward myself for the grief work I had done. I had grown tired of our dishs and the set was incomplete. Some dishes had broken and others were chipped. When I saw a newspaper ad for half price dishes I bought a set for myself. They bring me pleasure every day.
Grief is a slippery beast, yet we can stop ourselves from slipping. When we spot signs of regression we can give ourselves a recovery tune-up. Your recovery tune-up may be similar to mine or different. Make a list of the tune-up steps you could take and put it on the refrigerator door. Recovering from grief is a heart-wrenching challenge. We can do it!
Copyright 2008 by Harriet Hodgson
Harriet Hodgson has been an independent journalist for 30 years. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Her 24th book, “Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief, " written with Lois Krahn, MD, is available from http://www.amazon.com
Centering Corporation in Omaha, NE, North America's oldest and largest grief resource center, is publishing her 26th book, “Writing to Recover: The Journey from Loss & Grief to a New Life. " The self-help book is slated for early fall release.
Please visit Harriet's Web site and learn more about this busy author and grandmother.