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How Do You Move On


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Hi All,

All I can do is stay focused on the loss of both my parents... I just can not move on, I try and try to continue the journey but all it seems to me that I am doing is slipping backwards all the time... I had to give up my grief counsellor because I work so long everyday that I had no time to meet with her... I was kicked out of my support group for not being in the grieving way towards other people... So now what can I do... I have no friends and my family and I just do not see eye to eye anymore.... Shelley

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My dear Shelley,

Like so many members of our GH family, you have been on the difficult, lonely journey of grief for a long time, and in your process of mourning and healing, you now find yourself in that place in between. It’s a place that no longer feels familiar, because everything has changed: your hopes, dreams, lifestyle, home, family, friends – the very life you once knew is gone. Nothing feels familiar; nothing is the same; nothing feels the way you once knew it and intended it to be.

At this point in your grief journey, you feel like a stranger living in the twilight zone: sometimes angry, at other times scared, occasionally disoriented, often confused. You are in between what used to be (an ending) and what is yet to come (a new beginning). It is what authors William Bridges, Elizabeth Harper Neeld and others call the place of transition, the place between an ending and a beginning, between letting go of the way things used to be and taking hold again of the way they will become, between being lost and finding ~ a place where things aren’t the old way, but they’re not yet the new way, either.

Transition is the way we come to terms with loss and change. It is the place of healing through grief, of learning to integrate the completely unacceptable idea that your world has changed forever and the burning hope that it will begin again. It is having faith that although your world will never, ever be the same, you will begin again.

Loss is a normal part of living in this world, and so is finding a way to go on. As psychologist Jo Christner writes in The Healing Power of Grief,

As you go through these stages of transition, you will begin to find light and to heal. It is normal to have loss. It is normal to grieve. It is normal to begin again. That is the way of life.

What can you do to help yourself through the process of transition and healing? Dr. Christner offers these suggestions:

1. If your grief is complicated, seek professional help from a licensed therapist.

2. Read books that will educate, support, bring comfort and inspire.

[see the books I’ve listed on the Articles ~ Columns ~ Books page of my Grief Healing Web site for suggestions. Two on this particular topic that I recommend most highly:

The Way of Transition: Embracing Life’s Most Difficult Moments, by William Bridges

Tough Transitions: Navigating Your Way through Difficult Times, by Elizabeth Harper Neeld ]

3. Have a transitional object: something that belonged to your loved one (e.g., ring, shirt, socks, picture, key chain, coin) that will bring you comfort during a time when nothing seems to bring comfort. Carry it with you and touch it when you need to remember your beloved.

4. Talk to yourself in a way that serves to perpetuate healing. The way you talk to yourself can make a difference. If you can, keep your thoughts in the present moment. Read inspirational thoughts that give you support and comfort. [see, for example, Comfort for Grieving Hearts.] It’s too easy to feel hopeless and predict the worst by going into the future. It’s not here yet ... and you will change. Determining what the future holds will only reflect the pain that you feel now.

5. Having the belief that you can survive this loss and heal will help to bring hope, courage, and something to hold on to. Some people find that their religion and faith give them support. Seek beliefs that support your healing and recovery.

6. Grieving is an individual journey. Making comparisons or judging yourself against others will not assist you in your healing. Trust that, with the support of others, you will heal ... in your own unique way, in your own unique time.

7. Do seek support through friends, family, and support groups. Being in a support group with others who are on a similar journey can give comfort and reassurance during this difficult time.

8. Give yourself the time that you need to grieve and to heal. Sometimes you need to visit the grief. Sometimes you need to visit the distractions and resources in your life. Allow room for both. It’s the ‘space-in-between’ where the healing begins. I want to remind you that grieving, transition, and healing are a process, not an event.

It will take as long as it takes for you to travel this journey. You won’t do it ‘wrong.’ You will do it the way that you need to heal. Statistically, it is believed that normal, healthy, uncomplicated grieving takes about two years. For some individuals, it will be shorter and for others, longer [emphasis mine]. Trust YOUR progress and your journey. Trust that you, too, will heal. Trust that you will find life and light again . . .

[source: The Healing Power of Grief: The Journey through Loss to Life and Laughter, by Gloria Lintermans & Marilyn Stolzman, Ph.D., LMFT, pp. 86-90]

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Hi Marty T,

Thank you so very much for all the information in your last reply, I will definitely use it well... I think the main problem for me is the loneliness... I am trying to do something about that, I am joining weight watchers and also I am starting back at church I am just afraid that someone will say something and I will be back to the way I am now... I am also afraid that I will not find what I am looking for and switch back to the way I am right now... Thanks again for always being there even when it seems you have repeated the same thing over and over.. Take care Shelley

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