By Sharon Greenlee —
It’s been over six months since my husband died and people still ask the question: “How are you doing?”
If you’ve lost a loved one, you’re familiar with that phrase. I wonder how you’ve responded? Do you really tell them, or do you offer a polite cliche? I found myself practicing various responses so as to not be caught off guard and either melt into a pile of tears or sound stoic and cold in my efforts to stay together.
As a counselor in private practice I have worked with many grieving clients and I have worked through my own prior grief losses. It isn’t easy! It IS work and it takes time, tears, patience and self-care to experience and try to understand the emotions that surround a grievous loss.
In my case, it means putting myself in the “client chair” (figuratively speaking), as I ask myself six questions. They’re the same questions I ask clients, whose answers help me assess their progress. As I journal my own responses, I’m able to do the same gentle assessment on myself.
If you are in grief recovery, you may find solace and greater self-understanding as you answer these six questions. If you answer ‘yes’ to questions 1-4 or ‘no’ to? 5-6, you may wish to journal your responses and share these thoughts with a trained grief professional.
1. Do you find it difficult to find peace and acceptance with the circumstances surrounding the person’s death?
2. Is there something that needs forgiving, or is there still unfinished business between you and the one who died?
3. Do you have unmet needs that feel unsurmountable?
4. Are you unable to find your own sense of identity as a result of your loved one not being with you?
5. Compare your previous reactions to loss and disappointments with your recent loss. Are you within the range of what you would call “healthy-normal” for you?
6. Describe either the optimism or the pessimism that you are feeling in your belief that you will eventually find peace of mind after this loss. Are you mostly optimistic in spite of your current pain?
None of us will avoid the well-intended, “How are you doing?” We can either keep practicing responses, use a cliche or discover our grief truth for ourselves. Who would have guessed it might require answering six questions in order to answer one?
Sharon Greenlee, MS, LPC, RPC,?is a licensed counselor, author and consultant. For many years she has conducted seminars and workshops in all areas of personal growth, creativity, writing, stress reduction, grief, loss, change and life transitions. She conducts grief support groups and provides personal counsel for grieving adults and children. For many years her work as a hospice volunteer included support for bereaved children and their terminally ill mothers. Sharon is the author of “When Someone Dies” (Peachtree Publishing). She lives in Fort Collins, CO. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.Tags: anger, Depression, grief, hope