If your “family and friends” don’t honor and respect what you need when you are going through a period of loss, you may decide you need to limit your time with them for the time being.
Although this is a difficult thing to do, It’s incredibly important for you to surround yourself with people and situations that support you in healing and moving forward.
People who want you to be exactly who you were before your loss, aren’t clear on the concept. It’s likely they haven’t been through a difficult loss…or if they have, they didn’t deal with their loss very consciously. Being around you may trigger their own feelings of loss and pain that they don’t know how to handle.
Your job isn’t to talk them into healing…your job is to take care of yourself and your own needs. When you feel stronger you’ll be able to decide when it’s time to interact with them again.
It’s never easy to put distance between you and your loved ones during a time of loss…in a way it adds insult to the injury of your original loss. During this time when you are feeling especially vulnerable, you naturally want to turn to those you love and are familiar with…you want to be able to depend on them. You want to be able to feel their love and support. When they aren’t able to support you it feels like another layer of abandonment….yet another loss.
I have seen this pattern time and time again. I first noticed this pattern in my own life when friends didn’t know how to be with me as I was grieving for my father’s death and dealing with my own physical burnout.
The Key Is Learning How to Take Care of Yourself
What I discovered is that it was crucial for me to learn how to nurture and support myself. At times I was very, very lonely. There were many long nights when I wondered if I’d ever make it through. Gradually I learned how to take care of and nurture myself. As my healing continued I noticed how much stronger I felt. I was more confident, clear, and content. By the time I was ready to leave my hibernation and join others in activities, I no longer feared being alone. I knew, without a doubt, that I could depend on myself during difficult times.
When you find that you can’t rely on friends and family members to support you in your healing journey, know that you are being asked to learn how to take care of yourself. Rather than focus on what’s happening outside of yourself, turn your attention inward. Be attentive and compassionate about your own needs.
Find a Support Group
I’m not suggesting that you must live all alone…what I am saying is that your current social network may not be the best source of support at this time. Instead of turning to those who don’t understand you or what you are experiencing, reach out to others who are experiencing similar circumstances.
Where should you start? Look around your community for support groups that would be a good fit for you. If you can’t find anything local, search on the internet. See if you can find a Yahoo Group for people in your situation. If neither of these options pans out, create your own support group.
As hard as it may be to believe, you aren’t the only one who is having a difficult time with your loss. By joining a group, you’ll discover how reassuring it can be to hear how others are handling loss, how they are finding creative ways to move forward, and how refreshing it is to help others find their way through the maze of loss.
If you join a group and you aren’t getting anything out of it, keep searching. Don’t just give up on getting support from a group of people who are going through a similar loss. What’s missing? Would you do better in a group that meets in person? Would you be more comfortable with the anonymity of an online group? Only you can do the detective work to discover the kind of group that will be best for you!
As you navigate this difficult time of loss, turn to yourself for the strength you need to find your own way out of hibernation and back into Spring!
Carol McClelland, PhD, author of The Seasons of Change and Your Dream Career For Dummies, is a transition expert. She?s helped thousands of people get back on their feet after their lives have been turned upside down by natural disasters and personal losses, such as grief, illness, job change, relocation, and divorce. To receive your own copy of her Seasons of Change Workbook visit: http://www.transitiondynamics.com/seasons
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