Stepping Outside Our Comfort Zones
We live most of our normal lives in a place that feels comfortable and safe to us. We often have to stretch ourselves to do, say, or take action on anything that is outside of the realm of these comfort zones. When grieving the loss of a loved one, that place of comfort is disturbing, as now we must move toward a new normal, a place where the old isn’t even familiar any longer. How is that even possible?
We know that the emotions of grief are natural and normal, even though they do not feel-comfortable or normal to us. The pain we feel is not one we would wish on anyone, and the question of “why” this happened goes unanswered. As we acknowledge that what we are feeling is a necessary part of our grief journey, or the grief work, we will be better able to stretch ourselves and take baby steps to move forward. To do so, we must allow ourselves to take risks. We’ve all heard the familiar sayings, “This too shall pass” and “The dawn always appears.” Although seemingly meaningless and difficult to accept, both statements are correct. In most cases, what keeps us stuck in our comfort zone of grief is fear. We fear the future without our loved one. Fear will keep us stuck in denial of the reality of our new life moving forward and can even lead to unhealthy physical and emotional conditions. We don’t have to know how things will work out, but we do have to take action. Here are a few suggestions to help us stretch:
• Know that we have an obligation to live our lives to the fullest, so we must make a decision to do one thing today to make our new lives begin to flourish, like, visit the senior center, call another person who is grieving, have a cup of coffee with a friend, do something that we’ve always wanted to do but never did, etc.
• Whatever our faith or belief, we must learn to tap into it for the strength to forge ahead. Know that fear and faith can’t reside in the same house, so we must choose one or the other. I often call on the scripture: “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (II Timothy 1:7) to destroy any impending fearful or doubtful situation.
• Meditation is an effective tool to use prior to taking necessary steps outside of the comfort zone. Finding that inner place of peace and comfort will provide assurance that we can move forward with confidence and love, remembering to love ourselves as we cherish the memories of our dear loved one.
As we step outside of the comfort zone of grief, we must remember that it is good to be kind, gentle, and patient with ourselves. Taking advantage of a support group, spiritual advisor, grief counselor, and/or coach to walk with us through it and hold us accountable can be a very helpful thing to do during this difficult time in our lives.
John T. Catrett, III
Scissortail Hospice Chaplain
306 North Main Street, Suite E
Bristow, OK 74010