Updated: Jul 11, 2022
Key Words: Life, Death, Grief, and Recovery
By Dr. Lisa M. Coffey
September 22, 2021
I wrote this post some time ago and was unsure if or when I would share the post. However, after the past few weeks, this post has been very relevant. The photo above is my son, Savon Salter, at my friend Penny's home going celebration.
The inevitable part of life is death. Earlier this year, two of my relatives passed away. Both were cousins who were instrumental in my life. My mother and I traveled the highway by car and took to the air amidst the pandemic to pay our final respects to our departed family members. Within five days, we attended two funerals and traveled 1,461 miles. As a result, I was physically exhausted and emotionally drained.
I was asked to speak at one of the services and began my remarks this way, "Too often, we are grieving the loss of a loved one. Too often, we are saying goodbye to kindred spirits, gentle souls, and pillars in our family. Too often, death leaves us with questions and a need for clarity. Too often, emptiness, anxiety, and yearning are consuming feelings. Yet, we feel all of these things because of love!" In retrospect, this short passage describes the action of mourning. Although articulating these sentiments comes easy, processing grief and navigating the emotional roller coaster can be challenging. Recovery is a process.
The key to recovery is understanding that grief is natural. There is no time limit to the grieving process; everyone grieves differently and expresses those feelings differenlty to avoid falling into depression. In my book, iDid and uCan 2, I wrote about my father, brother, and dear friends' deaths and how each death impacted my life. The essential steps in the recovery process are:
Acknowledge the shock, anger, disbelief, guilt, or sadness associated with the loss
Accept that grief is a natural part of life and does not make you weak.
Understand how grief disrupts your life: eating, sleeping, work patterns, and relationships.
Seek assistance from professionals who can help you through the grieving process.
Take care of your emotional and physical wellness.
Know the difference between grief and depression.
Processing grief and navigating the mourning process requires a deliberation set of actions described above to move through the process. Never lose sight of your feelings, progress, and the need for help, if necessary. When sadness overfills my heart, I find an outlet that brings me comfort and realigns my focus. Lately, I have spent time in the ceramics studio enjoying the creative process. To balance my emotional wellness, I shift my attention to an outlet that brings me joy, calms my spirit, and allows me time for self-reflection. My creativity is an outlet to help restore my imbalance. Do not give the enemy a seat at your table during the grieving process (drugs, alcohol, anger, violence, or abusive behaviors) find a source that brings your joy.
The circle of life is a cycle that ends with the loss of life that we can not escape. When faced with those challenges and sadness, embrace the changes ahead, understand the hurt, relish in the memories, and when the sadness overtakes your heart find a way to step back, and to enjoy a diversion to realign your thoughts. Do you have a positive outlet to help shift your focus and rebalance your thoughts? If not, write of list of things that brings joy to your life and choose one or two to help you regain focus.
Anger, L. (2020, August 28). How to process complicated grief. Retrieved September 2021, from Better Help: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/grief/how-to-process-complicated-grief-in-healthy-ways/
© 2021 Lisa M. Coffey