Grieving shouldn’t just be a passive process—but many people need help being proactive about it. Dr. Gloria Horsley from the Open to Hope Foundation recently spoke with proactive grieving expert Mitch Carmody of Heartlight Studios about what it means to grieve in a proactive manner. Carmody brings his own experience to the table, having lost his son 27 years ago and experiencing more losses throughout the decades. “Trying to navigate this dark journey, I grieved like my mother used to,” he says. In the past, grief was something you hid away, and that’s still an approach used (and even encouraged) today.
“Put it behind you, buck up and get over it,” is how Carmody explains it. However, as an artist, he just couldn’t do it that way. Instead, Carmody committed to bringing his son Kelley “back” by establishing a new kind of relationship with his son. “That brought my life back,” he says, and proactive grieving is born. If something’s broken, including your heart, there are only a few options: Throw it out, fix it, put it away to forget or repurpose it. Carmody recommends repurposing it.
Claiming Your Grief
It’s possible to “sit on the shelf” and “coast through life.” Others throw their heart away, be it through suicide or simply by not living life. Carmody explains that by handpicking what works for you, and with a lot of work, you can bring the joy back into your life. “We need to get out the tears because they’re toxins,” but don’t forget about the joy. “Turning your loss into a legacy” is what Carmody preaches, and how he recovered himself.
You’ll discover a plethora of things within you to make your life joyful, while still keeping that “lost” life alive and present within you. Many people around you may avoid talking about your lost loved one, but “we crave having the name said,” says Carmody. Encourage those around you to talk with you about your loved one who’s passed. Most people don’t know how to provide comfort, but they want to be told and they want to deliver. “Say the name, keep your loved one present,” he says.
You won’t get over it, but you can learn to live with the loss.