When you’re in the middle of grief, it’s hard to tell whether you are progressing and healing. Movement in grief is usually very slow…so slow, in fact, that you never see it happening. What signs can tell you when you are beginning to heal from the traumatic emotional wounds of loss?
This is not an exhaustive list. But here are some signs to encourage you that your grief is healthy and you are moving toward healing:
- You move from survival mode to beginning to return to your life and hope for the future.
- You quit letting grief just happen to you and decide to take a more proactive stance in how you mourn.
- You move from anger, frustration and irritability toward adapting to your new reality.
- Thoughts about your loved one bring you more comfort than sadness.
- You not only accept help from others but you begin reaching out to others in grief or crisis.
- You begin to see your grief and mourning as a way to honor your loved one’s life and to express your continuing love for them.
- You move from constant emotional turmoil and being negative to enjoying life once again and being positive.
- You understand you hurt yourself by dwelling on the past and all of your regrets and guilt about your relationship with your loved one. You work toward forgiving yourself.
- You quit obsessing on what lies ahead for you and your children. You quit living in worries, fears and anxieties about things that may never happen.
- You quit focusing on the death and how your loved one died and begin focusing on how they lived, the love you have for them and what they gave you that can never be taken away.
- You let yourself have fun and enjoy life.
- You begin to realize that you can and will survive the experience of grief.
- You accept your loss story and use it to help you heal and to help other mourners.
- You gain strength and encouragement knowing how you have moved through the changes of grief. This strength and encouragement gives you confidence for the changes that still lie ahead in your grief journey.
- You accept that sadness and depression are a part of grief that will change over time.
- You decide to quit taking yourself and life so seriously. You know your loved one would not want your life to be totally ruined because they died.
- Your dread of holidays and special days becomes less and less.
- You start focusing on the things in your life to be thankful for.
- You decide to always remember your loved one in meaningful ways that will honor their valuable life.
- You get up in the morning knowing there is something to look forward to
Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise” available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).
The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa”
Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX http://grief-works.org.