After the Death of Your Loved One
After the Death
During the last year, Don and I have grieved the loss of a dear sister-in-law, three good friends, and just recently, my uncle’s partner. I imagine some of you have dealt with similar losses. Years ago, Don and I each lost our spouse. So I thought it would be timely to repost this about the stages of grief. After the death of your loved one, you can expect certain changes to occur. While understanding these steps doesn’t change the process, it sometimes helps to recognize where we are, and that at some point, there can be a return to hope.
A 7.8 point earthquake in Syria and Turkey on Monday. Homes destroyed, more than 5000 people killed, some still caught under the rubble of the crumbled buildings. People, now homeless, living outside in snow and the cold of winter.
Whether we deal with corporate or personal grief, healing takes time.
When you lose a partner, best friend, or other loved one, depression creeps in like a fog. You may lose social connections you shared as a couple and will need to make some new friends. Your husband may have taken care of the bills, house repairs, and yard. Planning and meal preparation, laundry, and carpools may have been part of your role. Now you have to do it all. Adjusting to single life is not easy, especially if you have children.
You may miss long, intimate chats with a close friend, sweet moments with your child, or the joy and responsibility of caring for an aging parent. Here are a few additional tips to help you wade through deep waters to your new normal.
Whatever your grief responses, they are NORMAL.
Grief comes in waves. After my first husband died, I sometimes jumped the wave, occasionally even crested it, then another capsized me and I didn’t think I could go on. You’ll experience a continuum of grief, which typically includes between five and seven stages depending on how you identify them.
- Denial (This isn’t happening to me!)
- Anger (Why is this happening to me?)
- Bargaining (I promise I’ll be a better person if…)
- Depression (I don’t care anymore.)
- Acceptance (I’m ready for whatever comes.)
- from John H. Sklare, Ed.D, LifeScript Personal Coach
Confusion, loss of focus, and profound fatigue are typical and will pass in time. Accept your current scattered mind and, if possible, laugh at yourself. When my father was dying, a kind nurse told Mom, “When you put the ice cream in the dishwasher, don’t worry. You’re not losing your mind; you’re grieving.”
The second chart identifies grief in seven stages.
Because you will feel vulnerable and deal with all the painful emotions that accompany your enormous loss, it is wise to take some extra safety precautions, especially if you lost a spouse or loved one who lived in your home.
Be careful when you drive. Within a two-week span I got onto the wrong freeway four times because my mind wasn’t properly engaged. Either think through your route before you go, or focus on your travel despite all the other issues that flood your mind.
Do not meet strangers at your home alone; provide only necessary information; avoid telling relative strangers that you’re widowed or alone. When I sold our second car, I met potential buyers at a location away from my house. No one knew my address until I sold the car and gave the pink slip to the buyer. I also asked either my brother or a male friend to meet strangers together with me for additional protection/safety.
Culprits prey on the vulnerable, lonely, and elderly. Carpet, roofing and painting contractors, repair-persons, and especially solicitors, have no need to know you are alone. I wore my wedding ring and kept “the Nicolet residence” and “we” on my answering machine for a long time after becoming a widow.
Consider joining a support group. After a few months, you may want to participate in a grief recovery group through your church or a community organization. Talking with others facing a similar loss can provide a safe place to express your emotions, share information, and learn ways to deal with your grief. To find Christian resources and/or a support group in your area, contact www.griefshare.org.
Take care of little needs. Despite my down comforter, I faced many winter nights when, chilled from the inside, I couldn’t get warm. One night, shivering, I called a close friend. She told me to “go to Long’s right now and buy a heating pad.” With a coat over my pajamas, I did just that, and slept better with the added warmth. I also purchased a body pillow so I had something to hold onto. Your body experiences tremendous shock with the death of a loved one, so sleep when you need to, and can.
Recognize your limitations. For some time after Jerry’s death I continued to mentally rehearse different scenarios. What if we tried another treatment alternative? hadn’t had the transplant? What if we’d had the transplant done somewhere else? But Jerry and I made the best decisions we could at the time, in prayer and with the information we had. So did you. Forgive yourself if necessary.
Finally, take heart. There is hope.
Relying on Jesus a day at a time to meet your needs, comfort you, and change your dreams is an ongoing process, and will not occur easily or quickly. I learned to count on God’s promise:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT).
Choose life, one day at a time.