Thinking Out Loud: FrontalAssault in Four Areas
There are many things to be open-minded about when considering how to meet the difficult changes imposed by the death of a loved one. The best approach of all is simply to recognize that this loss has affected all areas of your life in some way. In order to begin the task of finding some balance and stability, you will first have to face what is the most daunting challenge at this very moment. In order to accomplish that, examine how grief assaults these four areas of your life.
Emotionally: What emotions are overwhelming you? Is there anger, guilt, hatred, or a sense of total devastation? Do you feel cornered by the thought that you are alone or totally responsible for your young children? Are you firmly convinced you will never be happy again? Examine your thoughts very carefully and attempt to find one or two emotions or thoughts that seem to call the most attention to themselves or are the most painful to address. You will have to be extremely specific. When you are alone, you must have paper and pen handy to write them down.
Physically: Consider what dealing with your loss has done to you on your physical health. Is your energy level at its lowest point ever? Have you gained weight or lost too much? What do you think has contributed most to this? Lack of or too much sleep? Too much caffeine and very little solid food? Has an old injury or ailment suddenly flared up? Are you dealing with a cold? Have you forgotten to take your medication on more than one occasion (rather, a lot, lately)? Again, carefully weigh what is the most important factor that has contributed to your physical condition at this moment. Now write it on your list.
Socially: Often the death of a loved one causes us to withdraw. In addition, emotions like anger, depression, and guilt are isolating emotions and often keep friends and family at a distance. What is the nature and effectiveness of your support system? Do you have good listeners, or people who are always trying to fix you? Are you contributing to your isolation by refusing to go out, or driving people away by what you say? What is the number one need you expected would be met by your friends and family, but it hasn’t happened? Review your social and support needs and pick out the most important one that should be addressed. Put that on your list.
Spiritually: We often think about the “why” of a death. Why now? Why him/her? Or, what have I done to deserve this? Sometimes our faith and spiritual beliefs are shaken to their very roots. It is not uncommon that we find ourselves blaming or questioning God for not hearing our prayers, for allowing this to happen. In your pain, in being lost in the loss, have you forgotten that you are not alone? Love prevails. Love often even grows from the fertile soils of death, but we have to face the death—the loss—turn all of the bad to the goodness that was there all along. Are you shying away from letting your Heavenly Father see you just as you are, in painful need, because of your loss?
Even though you are deeply hurting, you can still be the answer to someone else’s prayer. What must you do to reclaim your faith, which you wore every day, cloaked in God? He is waiting for you to find Him within this new life, touched with a deeper meaning than you even expected. Decide where you are with your spiritual beliefs since your loss, and find what is missing. Again, put it on your list.
Now you have four or five immediate needs on your list from these four areas in your life that have been affected by the death of your loved one. The next step is to put these in priority. What must you deal with first? Once you have picked it out, begin immediately to start the work of grief. Decide who you need to help you deal with your top priority. Decide what information is necessary for you to gather. Then, and most important, what specific behaviors should you initiate. Let “one need at a time” be your motto. Tackle the first priority, then your second, and so on.
In summary, there are no secret steps to gain instant healing. Each grief is one of a kind, and the work of grief is highly individualized—even for you. But you can gain insight and direction on where to begin, and specifically, where you need the greatest assistance. This is a place for you to start your comeback. Reach out, just a little. Refuse to withdraw. Persist. Time is not a healer. You are your own healer~~own healer~~with God’s help! You CAN and will get through this! You are not alone anymore!
John T. Catrett, III
Scissortail Hospice Chaplain
306 North Main Street, Suite E
Bristow, OK 74010