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To Fight Grief or to “Go With the Flow..”

Another ocean image: If you are washed out to sea in a rip tide, a seaward moving current that goes away from shore, it is way stronger than you are and if you fight it, you will become tired and eventually run out of energy. When you fight, sometimes you don’t have the energy to make it back to shore. But, if you let the current take you, don’t fight it, let it carry you where it will and take you out towards the sea, eventually, the current will run out of energy and let you go. Once it does, you can use the strength and energy you didn’t use fighting it to swim to the edge of the current and then turn shoreward and swim back to land.

Grief will take you were it will. It is it’s own current carrying you away from the shore of your normal out towards the sea of a life unknown. It is always my inclination to go where the current takes me and to husband my strength for the learning and the growth, the swim back to the shore of a “new normal” life as a widower will require of me.

Facing your grief or hiding from it and avoiding it or perhaps a little bit of both when it’s too much all at once:

I’ve also talked to people who have chosen in some way to hide from their grief. They found ways to stay super busy, to go out, to join meet up groups and to generally try to submerge their grief below sometimes frantic or frenetic activity to keep from thinking about it or feeling it. 

I learned about this response when most of those I talked to who had chosen this path showed up, sometimes years later, in a support group dealing with all the unresolved emotions and feelings, often even more intensely for having delayed them from finding expression and resolution. 

At the same time, often our grief feelings are so intense, we may not be able to deal with them all at once or day after day. At times we need to find ways to put them aside temporarily, to get busy doing something else to help us put them off for a little while and try to give ourselves an “emotional day off”. Even an hour or two off can help.  We all need some time to let ourselves absorb and process what is happening without thinking or feeling the intensity of it. 

I personally looked to old hobbies from earlier in my life to fill those moments. I also began learning new things as extensions of those activities that let me concentrate and focus on something away from my grief. To focus on things that gave me some time off, most times for me it was only an hour or two but they were times of doing something else besides actively grieving. 

I chose to do something active and creative for my bit of relief time but probably listening to music or watching an absorbing movie or TV show would bring the same distraction. For many people, reading seems to require almost too much concentration but if that is your go to, if it works, it works.  

I will say though, that learning new things engages so much of your attention and helps your mind stay active through these times that therein lies an added benefit of more active vs. more passive activity. Again, this is just my personal preference and it’s what worked for me. What ever works for you is good and if it helps, go at it!

waves of grief

Hope vs. Hopelessness: looking for some light:

Grief can definitely cause feelings of hopelessness, as the waves come over us day after day, week after week, it sometimes gets to feeling like we will never get any relief and this pain will go on forever. 

Speaking from a perspective of 4 years out, I can say for myself and for a large number of widows and widowers I talk with regularly, that with time, the waves become less high, they come less often and we start being able to catch our breaths between waves. Further along, if not the sun, we can at least begin to see the light behind the clouds and the promise that some day, some time, the clouds might actually part and some light will come back into our lives.

Stay Hopeful …