Reconciling Grief: Take All the Time You Need

Mourners want grief to end.  Some try to rush their mourning, only to find it cannot be rushed.  According to The Talmud, “Who forces time is pushed back by time; who yields to time finds time is on his side.”  The process of reconciliation – -making the deceased part of yourself and your life — is a slow one.  It’s even slower it you have suffered multiple losses.

Colin Murray Parkes writes about time in “All in the End is Harvest.”  He says, “Death may happen in a moment, but grief takes time; and that time is both an ordeal and a blessing.”  Grief work is also an ordeal and a blessing and you must do it in order to recover from loss and move forward with life.

Taking your time helps you do your grief work. What is grief work?  The National Cancer Institute defines it as the “processes that a mourner needs to complete before resuming daily life.”  Grief work is a lonely work and nobody can do it for you.  When you take your journal entries, counseling, support group meetings, creating art work, and memorials.

Taking your time helps you to sort feelings. Grief causes conflicting emotions.  You may have a sense of relief if your loved one was in hospice and you have been expecting his or her death.  On the other hand, you may be angry at God and ask, “Why did this happen to me?”  Kevin Hendry examines feelings in a Forbes Health Foundation article, “Guidelines for Doing Good Grief Work.’  Mourners should honor their feelings, Hendry says, for “your healing will be found at the heart of the whole huge unspeakably intense and disorderly jumble of them all.”

Taking your time increases self-awareness. Daniel Goleman, PhD, discusses self-awareness in his book, “Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More Than IQ.”  According to Goleman, self-awareness is “ongoing attention to one’s internal states.”  Goldman says self-awareness doesn’t get carried away by emotions, but is present “even amidst turbulent emotions.”  This is good news for mourners.  Despite the pain you are feeling, you may be self-aware and listen to our inner voice.

Taking your time helps you to let go. The Coping Website, a public service of James J. Messina, PhD and Constance M. Messina, PhD, lists the tools for letting go.  The authors think letting go is “a decision to take action that will result in a significant change in your life.”  In order to move forward with life you have to let go of many things:  cause of death, memories, feelings, possessions, events, and more.  Letting go will lift your spirits.

Coming to terms with grief takes time, according to a Grief Watch Website article, “Normal Reactions to Loss: The Mourning Process.” It’s hard to believe now, the day will come when you are aware of the progress you have made and have hope for the future.  “You will be different,” the article notes, “and a ‘healed scar’ will be where the rawness once was.” So take the time you need – minutes, hours, days – to reconcile your grief and create a new life.

Coyright 2009 by Harriet Hodgson

Harriet Hodgson, BS, MA,  has been an independent journalist for 30 years.  She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Association for Death Education and Counseling.

Harriet was on the radio show Healing the Grieving Heart, discussing Recovery from Grief with hosts Dr. Gloria and Dr. Heidi Horsley.  To hear this show, go to the following link:

www.voiceamericapd.com/health/010157/horsley042309.mp3

Harriet Hodgson

More Articles Written by Harriet

Harriet Hodgson has been a freelancer for 38 years, is the author of 36 books, and thousands of print/Internet articles. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists, Minnesota Coalition for Grief Education and Support, and Grief Coalition of Southeastern Minnesota. In 2007 four of her family members died—her daughter (mother of her twin grandchildren), father-in-law, brother (and only sibling), and the twins’ father. Multiple losses shifted the focus of Hodgson’s work from general health to grief resolution and recovery, and she is the author of eight grief resources. Hodgson has appeared on more than 185 radio talk shows, including CBS Radio, dozens of blog talk radio programs, and dozens of television stations, including CNN. In addition to writing for Open to Hope, Hodgson is a contributing writer for The Grief Toolbox website, and The Caregiver Space website. A popular speaker, she has given presentations at public health, Alzheimer’s, hospice, grief, and caregiving conferences. Hodgson’s work is cited in Who’s Who of American Women, World Who’s Who of Women, Contemporary Authors, and other directories. For more information about this busy wife, grandmother, author and family caregiver, please visit www.harriethodgson.com.

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