Growing through grief

Grief is like a cyclone – violent and uncontrollable, it rips through us, upending our lives. Even when the shock has passed, we are left dazed, sifting through memories and trying to make sense of an unfamiliar, devastated landscape.
Grieving is a natural response to loss and the more you loved that person, the more powerful your feelings will be. Emptiness, confusion, fury, helplessness, and exhaustion are all part of a painful yet necessary process that will take time to pass.
Cancer survivors invariably refer to discovering a renewed zest for life, and a determination to make the most of every moment. Grieving has a similar effect. As you work through your sadness, you become stronger emotionally. And ultimately, by reminding you that life is short and unpredictable, grief helps you to appreciate everything life has to offer – the many joys as well as the hard times. Keeping these thoughts in mind will help:
Stay present:
h the word 'should' from your vocabulary – there is no correct way to mourn, and no time frame when you will 'start to feel better'. You can't change the way you feel – the best thing you can do is simply be present to it.
Let it out:
Getting your feelings out in the open lets healing begin – but when and how you do so is a highly individual decision. Some people may take months or years before they are even able to cry; some may crave privacy, others may need another person to be present to validate their feelings. See what feels right for you –writing in a journal, confiding in a friend, or undertaking counselling.
Continuing to talk or write to someone who has died can help. Whether you believe in God, Buddha, or an unnamed Source, if you think loved ones can continue to guide you from the other side, you can develop a spiritual relationship with them that reaches past their physical death. There is a bereavement poem that includes the famous lines, "Do not stand at my grave and weep; I am not there. I do not sleep." Nobody knows who wrote the poem but it contains a profound truth: you don't have to say goodbye to that person, they live in your heart forever.
Treat yourself well:
Promise yourself, in your loved one's name, that you will eat, sleep and avoid destructive and unhealthy behaviours (e.g. drinking too much) for the sake of family and friends who love you.
Later, give back:
Everything that happens to us contains a lesson that helps us to grow. Consider Candace Lightner, whose 12 year-old daughter Cari was killed by a drunk driver; she then went on to form Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD, www.madd.org). Every loss is devastating, but it always offers the opportunity to keep that person's memory alive and share the legacy of their story.

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