JUSTin Time: The Power Behind a Red Door
“Store Good Memories”
Continuing on through “Grief’s 5 stages and recovery tasks,” this post deals with memories.
1. Accept the loss and face it honestly. This also means taking an inventory of other significant losses in the life of the one grieving and considering the secondary losses related to the primary one.
2. Release emotions. Grieve honestly and don’t cover up your feelings.
3. Store good memories. Carry good memories of the person who was lost in your heart. Recovering does not mean forgetting.
4. Separate your identity from the person, from what you have lost.
5. Reinvest in life. Part of the healing process is to begin to think and act outside yourself.
In the traditional stages of grief, the third stage is bargaining. What if we had gone to the doctor sooner? What I had been more often? What if it were me instead? What if, what if, what if….
There are countless what ifs. The questions are an attempt to gain control of a situation out of our control. It’s a logical step after loosing someone so important to us. We want to feel as though there is still an order to things, that we have some control.
But if we spend all of our time pondering what ifs, are we really healing?
Let’s shift the focus from what if, to recollecting the positives of what was.
Be patient during this stage. Initially, any memory of our lost loved one may bring with it a deep sadness. The more you open yourself to memories, the more susceptible you’ll be to feeling happy again.
A song that once drew you to tears could now make you smile when you think about what you were doing with your loved one when you last heard it together.
You’ll stop avoiding favorite hang outs you shared, and instead be able to revisit them and revel in the memory of the good times you had there.
When asked about your lost loved one, you’ll find yourself talking about favorite vacations you took, details about what kind of person they were… really anything pleasant rather than talking about the details of their loss.
In bargaining we find ourselves focused on the loss. In storing memories, we find ourselves focused on the life they lived. In turn, we’ll be able to more healthily proceed with our own lives.
Hang in there.
Kelly Hendershot has been active with Gilda’s Club since 2008 as a family member, bereaved, intern, group facilitator and president of the Associate Board.