September 26th, 2013
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A significant and ongoing part of the grieving process is learning what to do with the confusing feelings you experience.
What am I supposed to do with the sad, angry, and surreal emotions I have inside me about the person who used to be in my life?  That person who was here yesterday, but is not here today, and won’t ever be here for a lot more todays in the future.  How can I turn those sad, angry, surreal feelings into constructive feelings so that I can make a future for myself?

Acceptance of my new life and my new status is something I work on all the time.  Sometimes I push myself even when I’m not really sure where I am going because I know I have to challenge myself.  We all need to have something in our lives, something that we are passionate about, that makes us want to get out of bed in the morning and get dressed and go out in the world and interact with others.
In the beginning, getting out of bed was the last thing I wanted to do after my husband died.  Fortunately, my wonderful son needed to go to school and more importantly, needed to see that his only parent was functioning on some level as a regular human being.  I ignored my desire to pull the covers over my head and numb myself.  It was hard, very hard, and I felt as though I was walking through cotton candy, but I put one foot in front of the other every day and somehow managed to push forward to rebuild our lives.
I found that these confusing feelings were their most intense after my husband’s death but even now, nine years later, I still can have a wave of sadness come out of nowhere and totally wash over me.  Last week it was a beautiful, sunny, picture perfect September day and I left my office for a walk down to the Whole Foods store near George Washington University.Nothing in particular was on my mind so when a slide show of memories of me, my husband and our son started playing in my head I really felt down.  “I don’t want to go backwards,” I said to myself.  “If I do, I will only feel sad.” I kept walking and breathing deeply and eventually got back to my office.
It takes a while to wrap your brain around the fact that someone you love very much has died and they won’t be with you anymore to do the things that the two of you did over and over again and probably always thought you would do over and over again.
In a sense, it is as if some gigantic arm swept across the table of your life and wiped it clean, pushing everything away and laying it bare.  Your life as you know it has disappeared and all the routines you established with this person have collapsed.

Photo Courtesy of Dr. Rennie

But there is still you.  Amazing you!

Don’t count yourself out.  Ever.You may feel broken into pieces right now but you are still beautiful and full of possibilities.  You just need to find some glue in the form of love and comfort from friends, family and even support groups.  You do have reserves of inner strength within you and as strange as it sounds, you’ll find these reserves when you allow yourself to feel the pain of your loss.  You also find them when you do something by yourself that you never have done before.  I promise.Naturally, no one wants to feel the pain or put themselves out there in a vulnerable way, but that’s when you truly and authentically live life.  I have memories that are so painful that I have mentally put them in an imaginary box.  They are raw and scary feelings but experiencing them has made me live my life differently.

Don’t be afraid to spend some quiet time; time thinking about what you have been through and where you may want to go in the future.  Eventually the pieces of your life will start to come together and slowly mend, forming a stronger person.

Let’s go forward, for you and I are on new paths, and together we will accept and persevere.

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