My experience with grief tells me that while grief is different for everyone, there are commonalities in the questions grievers ask. How do I move forward? Why does grief take so long to get over? What does normal look like now? These are just some of the questions that linger after the death of anyone and can keep the strongest of us feeling confined.
I was there in that situation trying to decide if I even wanted to fight my way out. It turns out that at the time I did not even have the strength to begin. If I was going to survive, I needed some tools to help me break free.
Looking back, I have determined that I created a method for me that I call the Three Points of Survival. Let me explain what this is.
When my wife died, I needed a way to get my body to not be so exhausted and powerless. At the time, I felt like I was 120 years old and even though my mind said I should go for a walk around the block, my body said that there is no way that was going to happen as it literally gave anyone viewing me the impression that I was a stooped over vision of a man that seemed to have some disease of the legs, because I sure didn’t move more than a few inches at a time. I realized quickly that if I was going to challenge this vision, then I had to set some sort of realistic goal of standing up straight and taking bigger steps. I don’t want to give anyone the wrong impression. This took an incredible about of effort because of the pain both physically and mentally, as well as the time needed to get stronger and walk farther in the day to day challenge of fighting the grief body.
Getting out from under the mind deadening afterglow of grief can be debilitating and in my case I was always second guessing the decisions leading up to my wife’s death. I had to overcome all the negative thoughts and try to formulate a plan to reach out and touch another way of thinking. Grief has a way of placing you a cathartic state where you can’t seem to respond to anyone else’s input let alone yours. But, one event for me was noticed as I watched a movie and saw someone writing a blog. I don’t know why that one visual produced a thought that I should write a blog about my journey through grief, but it did and over time it opened by mind again and ultimately allowed me to think new thoughts and replace the ones that were beating me up. That eventually led to writing a book on the same subject matter and sent me on the journey to grief counselor training. It just proved to me that even when you don’t think your mind is registering anything, there are times when things do get through, and even the slightest movement towards new ideas can in the long run create movement forward.
The definition of spirit to me is any belief system whether religious or not where you can connect to a source that is outside of your conditioning. So, in my weakened state of grief and not necessarily being very responsive to anything, reaching out seemed darn impossible. But, what I was willing to do is listen and feel my way back through the stepping stones that were in my mind being placed in front of me to help guide me back.
As all three of these areas began strengthening over time, the clouds started to lift, I started to notice an improvement in the strength of my body, mind and spirit, and although there were moments of ups and downs, the important thing to remember is that it is your choice. There is no right or wrong when it comes to grief, and everything is indeed a choice. If you want to move into a new but different way after the loss of someone, then it is possible. If you don’t, then that is a choice as well.
Finally, the two things that will help you along the way is too be consistent and persistent. As hard as grief is, making a choice to come out and be a strong survivor is very difficult. You must be consistent enough in your thinking to know that if you just continue on the path you will see improvement. You also must be persistent, because nature and that wonderful thing called ego will make it difficult and you will need to stand strong over time.
Of course, your journey is an individualized story of yours on grief and no system will benefit everyone. But, what my journey told me is that by working on all three of the areas of body, mind and spirit, it gave me a chance. The lesson learned is that it is helpful to create a system for yourself that you can live within that gives you a chance to succeed and to overcome grief. Whatever system you develop will be perfect because the most important thing is that you buy into the process and see improvement even if it is baby steps.