There is a quote that many of us have heard, “TIME HEALS.” I do not think this is completely correct. Time is certainly an interesting thing. I know countless people that are still in deep mourning after years and decades after a loss of a loved one. There are also people that think you should grieve as long as you knew that person. For some, that may be their entire life that is left only to mourn. Oh my gosh, that sounds awful.
Grieving for anything (death, job loss, divorce, finance, health…) does take some time. First of all, address your grief. Don’t try to sidestep it. I promise it will keep coming back until you can just be with the pain and hurt. Depending on your perspective, choices, and what happened, grief will be different for everyone. It is necessary to stop and grieve, but what really will heal you, when you are ready is ACTION!
When my husband passed away I went through different stages of grief and learning. The ones that helped me heal were action steps. Please remember everyone goes through the process of loss and then moving on in such different ways, and not one is right and wrong- they are just different.
These are some of the action things I did that really helped move me to become a better person- and that’s why I think I’m here on this earth, to become better. It doesn’t mean that I did it all right, that’s impossible while we are all learning and doing things for the first time. Do things that serve you.
1. Study the cause of his death. I couldn’t get my hands on enough info-I read hours and hours about depression and suicide. This is an ongoing process because more information is available all the time. Learning changed how I thought about his death and him. This action step may be a little different with suicide. If your loved one passed away from cancer you may have studied about it when they received the diagnosis. Suicide survivors usually do this after they are deceased. Learn all you can.“When you know better, you do better.” Maya Angelou
2. Forgive. This is a hard one and can take a long time- like years. But practicing it- doing something about it, will help. I read over 100 books in a few years- all while I felt like I wasn’t playing with a full deck. Slowly I learned little bits of information that helped me forgive myself and others. I had to get to the bottom of why something hurt. Then ask WHY WHY WHY. Getting down to the bottom of pain is helpful so you don’t have suffering. After reading a bunch of books I agreed with Louise Hay, “Most people are doing the best they can, given what they know and understand, including you. If they knew more and were aware of more, they would do things differently.”
3. Prayer. Another thing that may not feel like an action, but it helped a lot. I feel like prayer is speaking to God, which is very important. Meditation is the other end – listening. One interesting thing that helped me with forgiveness was to pray for my husband who had passed away. My friend suggested this and it didn’t make sense at the time because I pictured my husband in heaven with God and not needing prayers anymore. When I started doing this for him and others, that’s when this action of prayer really started to help in my healing. One of the best things I learned going through this path I am on is compassion. Prayer helps with that, too.
4. Meditation. In the beginning, I only did this at the end of yoga class when I had to. It was so hard to be still because aching thoughts would come by and I didn’t want them to. But it got much better as time went by and as I learned more about meditation and it’s healing powers. Some people may not think meditation is taking action, but it sure is for me. It taught me to be in the moment and not be so concerned about the past or even the future.
5. Exercise. The first year I could have run a few marathons. Running (which is not my thing) felt awesome. Maybe I pictured running away from home, but whatever it was it worked and also helped keep my body physically strong. It was an action I could take each and every day. Kickboxing did amazing things for me, too. Yoga taught me to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations. It also taught me to breathe through the tough stuff.
6. Journal. I wish I would have been even better at it because when I could re-read my journal, I realized how far I had gone in my journey. Also, writing heals me.
7. Talk. I found a few people that I trusted and whom I could tell everything. It helped me to go over the very simplest details and process them. After I had gone through all of it I realized there are a lot of things I can’t change and I had to look at those things and say, “It is what it is.” I took them as learning lessons and had to change the story I was telling myself. I was not a victim, I had been through a lot of stuff and learned a lot of stuff. Mr. Rogers said, Whatever is mentionable is manageable. So go ahead, find someone you can trust to talk through what has happened.
8. Try new things. Each year I decide on one thing that I want to get better at. This helps me move forward and look for the good in changes. Biking, painting, swimming, reading more, listening. What is something that has made you happy in the past that you can bring back now or what is something you have always wanted to try?
9. Create. Find some way of creating that will soothe you. Take a class: art, music, writing, gardening, sewing, etc. Listen to what sounds fun to you and try it. Listening to your intuition will guide you to what will heal you inside and out.
10. Make a choice. There are a lot of things you don’t have choices on, but one you can choose is your attitude. You can choose it every moment. You can choose to take the good and the bad and put it in your toolbox and keep moving on. Would your loved one want you to be sad for life or live your life? Choose to live and be happy.
Time will not heal you, just because the clock is ticking. You have to choose to move. Please realize you will also have days that don’t feel good but get back up and keep going. Take some kind of action towards the best YOU. It really will be fun and you will look back as I have and realize that change was good. I am in such a happy place in my life right now and would have never searched out some of these things if something hard hadn’t happened and pointed me in a new direction. I am more open-minded and know I have the courage and strength I didn’t know I had.