The Proper Way To Heal From Loss
No matter what anyone says, there is no proper way to heal from grief and loss. The loss can come from death, divorce, moving, cancer, etc. The way people ultimately walk through the healing process is as vastly different and individual as people are themselves. While there are similar stages that most people go through as they walk through grief, those stages are sometimes out of order, skipped or some may get stuck on one stage and have a hard time coming out of it. Some people need to seek counseling while others may find solace in the fact that their loved one is no longer hurting. Some have had hard relationships with those who have passed and may have regrets of their time together while others have lived life to the fullest with the person they lost and have only good memories. The way someone dies or circumstances behind it also play a part in the path of healing.
Five years ago, my husband committed suicide. There were many things that came to light right before and for some time after his death about choices he had made during his lifetime. There was so much pain and confusion along with a full array of emotions I experienced, many times simultaneously. I was left a widow at 42-years-old with two young boys and a multitude of questions. It only got worse as I started sorting through paperwork. I can’t even explain how I functioned or made it through that first year-and-a-half after he died. I got counseling for the boys and myself very quickly. I know God, counseling and support from those closest to me were what kept me alive.
It has been a long, arduous journey towards healing. I would love to say that I am fully through it, but that would be a lie. There are many reasons I am still struggling, but right up at the top of that list is that one person (who was supported by a small group of others) told me that I needed to walk the path of healing in a certain way. I had many suggestions from different people through the years about how to get through it all, but this was delivered not as a suggestion but as a requirement with rules to follow. There was no way that I could follow this path.
I tried to keep this relationship going for various reasons, mostly for the kids involved, but it took such a huge toll on my life and added so much more damage. Long story short, my grief and processing of feelings were pushed to the side, into the background, buried – anything to keep it from being at the forefront because I didn’t have the permission, energy or the time to really feel any of it. I began to feel like I was being selfish or doing something wrong if I started to work through it.
They felt they had to focus on only the positives of the life lost. That works fine, if that’s how they needed to process everything and work through their pain, but I was left feeling like I was doing something wrong and like, maybe, I didn’t have the right to feel what I was feeling. The way they acted towards me made me feel this way. Plus, when I did think about how I felt, the feelings that came to the surface were not always sadness and, according to them, that was out of the question to feel this way. In actuality, what was really wrong was being told that my grief had to look a certain way so that their grief was easier for them.
The Heart Of the Problem and Freedom
What came into play the most, I believe in this situation, is the type of grief that was being felt by each of us. My counselor told me I had a very complicated grief and they had a simple form of grief. Usually that means that someone dealing with complicated grief can’t function in life and they are overwhelmed by the death and loss. They get fixated on their loss, it is intense, doesn’t wane and it rules their life over an extended period of time. Simple grief is in no way simple, but it is a grief that does get better over time with or without help. My grief was complicated. It was intense because of the way he died, the circumstances surrounding it as well as being there for my kids. It was complicated not only because it was so intense, but it wasn’t the loss that overwhelmed me as much as the events that came to light before and after his death. There were so many hurts and so much pain to work through. The life I thought I had lived ended up being nowhere close to the truth. It wasn’t real. I had lost everything I had thought I’d known. To take this pain and try to throw it into the same grief they were feeling could not happen. It was like trying to put an orange into a jewelry box. The jewelry box would have made all the pain and hurt look prettier and acceptable to them but there was no way that orange was ever going to fit and trying to force it would be beyond messy. When trying to make my grief fit into their box they only made a mess of my life and made the pain only get worse as I tried to hide it and push it away. Over time, the pain, hurt and anger began to eat away at me. I felt trapped and so alone when I was with them. I also began to feel like I had become the villain in their eyes. It got to the point that if I even mentioned my husband's name, the one person, especially, would cut me off or stand up quickly to leave. It was beyond imagination and became more than I could take.
If someone tries to do this, or anything that resembles this, to you, don’t let it happen. You have the right to feel the pain, hurt, anger or any other feelings as well as work through it the way you need to do it as long as you don’t hurt yourself or someone else. You need to also remember that you HAVE to work through it because, if you don’t, you will never be able to live life to the fullest. It is imperative to walk through all your feelings because they all matter. If you need help, get it. Allow others to walk through it with you as long as they are helping you move forward.
Your future is waiting and hope can only be found when you work through your past.