Talking to our spouses or partners:
One of the things I missed the most especially in the early part of my journey was talking to Andi. We talked pretty much all the time, whether a word or two or long conversations, it was a major part of our life together and when it was missing, it created a huge void and a huge need was exposed for that part of living with someone and sharing the daily commentary of our lives that was now absent.
So what can we do. Many of the people I talk to tell me they just keep talking. They talk to their spouses and partners as they always have, they express their feelings, their emotions, the sadnesses of their grief and the events of the new daily life things they are experiencing. I do it as well. When I am home, it’s just something familiar and comfortable to do, a normal thing to just say “hey, you know what I was thinking…” or some other comment from the day. I find it a comfort and continue to do it, knowing what it is for me and how it keeps a connection to that part of our life together.
It got a little strange one day when I was out walking and someone came up behind me and I didn’t hear them coming and here I was seemingly talking to myself. Think I got a kind of strange look but I could have been talking on a phone using ear buds right…lol
I think for me and many others who have talked to me about it, continuing the conversation is healthy and healing and has a place in our lives if we want or need it to be there. After all, the conversation, verbal and non-verbal, often began a long while ago and was the background of our lives through all the years we were together.
Journaling: Chronicling our thoughts and our days, writing letters to our loved one; things we still want to say or new things we want to tell them now!
Journals can be a private place to explore your thoughts and feelings. They allow you to express things you don’t want to share with anyone else but that you need to work on and find your way through as you navigate your grief journey. They can be a way to get thoughts out of your mind when you no longer have someone physically there with you to share them with. Journals can be hand written in a book or as a computer file, or what ever you are comfortable with.
Journaling at the end of the day can be a very healing tool. It allows you to write about your day, about your feelings, about things you learned and thought and always about memories. It can help you to remember things and it can help to get thoughts outside of your mind and on paper or on a computer and validate them but also release them from building up inside you and clogging your mind and emotions with the often very heavy and ponderous thoughts and feelings that our grief brings to us each day. It can also reinforce routines and rituals we tried or practiced during the day.
Journaling also allows us to write not only for and to ourselves, it’s a place and a way to express perhaps more complex thoughts and feelings we want to share with our loved ones. We can write as if we are talking to them and as if they can “hear” what we write. As with talking to your spouse out loud writing about longer and more involved ideas can be helpful and healing as it lets these thoughts and feelings move outside of our minds and take on the tangible reality of being readable on paper or a computer screen.
“Mindful stuff”like yoga and meditation, crafting or hobbies to help our focus and healing and to help break the habit of grief. Walking to soothe our grief and keep us moving.
This gets complicated in some ways. Grief itself is actually a very mindful place, a time of being totally present as the immediacy of our pain and the feelings we are going through absorb our attention completely when the waves overtake us.
Much of the rest of our thoughts are probably spent in the past, thinking about our spouse or partner, about things we’ve done and places we’ve been as well as things we might have or wanted to have said or done and lots and lots of memories.
The more present we can become in our lives, the more time we spend not dwelling on our loss and on just trying to be calm and centered, the less time we spend thinking about and experiencing the pain and the things we no longer have and of all the sad and lonely times we may be facing. Finding something to do that is mindful or one pointed is a good way to take you out of your grief for a while and to give you a start on creating mental and emotional habits of healing and something other than grieving.
Walking is another very healthful process. Walking is good for your body, it keeps you moving and helps you build body strength and improves the functioning of your immune system. It is also a good way, time and place to think outside your normal space and routines. It’s a time to be outside and see things in a new way perhaps. It frees your mind to wander, sometimes to grieve, sometimes to cry but also sometimes to think and look at your life and yourself and begin the work of deciding how you want to structure and create the next part of your life. It’s an activity that can foster positive and healing thinking as well as grief thinking.
Maybe grief is “normal” and so is healing:
Since grief arises out of love, and since love is normal, maybe so is grief. Maybe grief is something we need to go through, something we need to acknowledge and embrace even though it’s painful. Maybe grief is even healthy in a sense.
Gradually, we can also come to see and experience grief transform into healing and through our grief we can open the door to a new life and functionality beyond the pain. We can embrace our memories and our love and allow ourselves to go forward. People have been doing this for all of human history, so we can too.
The Habit of Grief:
Grieving isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but over time, we can actually fall into habits of grieving as we do with any other repetitive task or way of thinking. By breaking into those habits by using things like meditation and yoga or walking or crafting or building or cooking or any task that lets us focus on it completely, we can break out of our grief habits for a bit and into more healing thoughts and ways of spending at least parts of our days and nights. And in time, not grieving can become a habit and take over how we live the next part of our lives.