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A close-up of a newly opened delphinium flower (Summer 2013).

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Grieving: The Lessons

Grief doesn't have to be a passive thing that happens to you.
Grief is first and foremost something you do to heal your wounds
after experiencing a terrible loss in your life. 

~Bob Deitz, Life After Loss

I have just recently lost my life partner, Deane. We were each other's worlds, and our love shaped the life we shared everyday. 

When I met Deane 10 years ago, my heart clicked in the right places. When he died on the night of June 24, 2011, I was broken into pieces: pieces that hurt and agonized, pieces that ached for him, pieces that died with him.

People say that you are lucky if you find your one true love in this world. I consider myself as one of those lucky persons. And although my grief right now is deep and painfully raw, Deane 's love for me and my love for him will carry us through into a place of wholeness and transcendence.

I would like to share with you some lessons I am learning while in the process of grieving, hoping that should you traverse the same path one day, you will see the footprints I left behind.

It is okay to cry. Tears are healing. You accept your pain and your vulnerability when you cry. You embrace the turmoil of your soul when you cry. Crying is an acknowledgement that your world is never going to be the same again.

It is okay to feel as though you're falling apart. The death of your loved one can shock the entire system of your body. You might feel you are dying inside. You can't eat, you can't smell the coffee, you can't see the nice flowers.  

It is okay to feel lost and insecure. When someone you love dies, the normality of your life is broken. You feel like a ship without an anchor and without direction. Suddenly, you are made to face one big challenge: How to live without your loved one.

It is okay to slow down. Grieving takes time. There are days when you would just want to curl and cry. There are times when you want to shut your curtains and sit in the dark. There are nights when you cannot sleep and days when you cannot face the morning sun.

It is okay to be distracted and feel out of sorts. You may become forgetful, not focused, even disoriented. You may forget phone numbers and names of some people. You may experience exhaustion, as though you have just gone through a major surgery. There is just too much pain  that your mind and body gets out of whack for some time.

It is okay to feel intense emotions. You may feel deep pain and sadness around special occasions: birthdays, anniversaries or Christmases. Some places can trigger vivid memories and some objects owned by your loved one can bring tears. Allow yourself to feel these intense emotions as a way of respecting your grieving self.

It is okay to feel the presence of your loved one. You need not be scared if you sense the presence of your loved one. You might see an image, hear his/her voice, or feel your loved one's touch. It is okay to smell your loved one's scent or see his/her fleeting image. These experiences might be your loved one's way of contacting you to bring you comfort.

It is okay to be afraid. Your world has been thrown out of balance and that can be a terrifying feeling. It's okay to be afraid of the unknown after the death of your loved one. Fear enables you to take control of your safety. Fear makes you bolt your doors at night or to close your windows before going to bed. The feeling of fear, which is natural during the grieving process, can lead you to care for yourself.

It is okay to lose your sense of purpose. Your life's purpose might have been part of your deceased loved one's purpose, too. You might have had dreams and had envisioned what to accomplish together. There was certainty until your loved one's death. Suddenly, your life does not seem to have a purpose anymore. You are left with shattered dreams.

It is okay to accept help from others. You are not alone in your grief. Your friends, relatives and neighbors may have experienced having lost their loved ones, too. They want to comfort you and ease your pain. Accept whatever help they offer, be it a dinner invitation, a walk to a park, or an offer to cut your grass.

Because I'm still grieving, the lessons I have shared with you are the lessons I am going through. I have lost the most wonderful person I have ever met and I will always miss him.

The best way to honor Deane is to continue to live with meaning, aware that he just left ahead and that one day, I will be with him.

Meanwhile, my tears still flow.