Grieving Tools Revisited
Early this AM, my wonderful sister-in-law, Patti, passed away. She was an inspiration to all who knew her even in death. I ran across this enewsletter edition from August 6, 2012. It still has relevance. Whatever losses you’re dealing with, I hope this helps. I didn’t update it, or I would recant the second paragraph that states I haven’t suffered any losses. The loss of Patti is ginormous. It eclipes the presidential elections!
What A Summer! (First released August, 2012)
What a summer! Record setting heat. Drought. Wild fires. At least if
you want to escape reality and cool off, you can always go to the
movies. Then some madman with a shock of orange hair enters a theater
just five miles from my home, opens fire and kills a dozen people and
changes the lives of thousand more. Millions more.
I haven’t suffered any tangible loss this summer. My basement is
cool. My sprinkler system keeps my dandelions flourishing. My home
didn’t burn down like hundreds just 60 miles from me. And, thankfully,
I didn’t lose anyone in the theater massacre or anywhere else. Yet, I
feel a sense of loss.
Neil Rosenthal, a Colorado psychologist and writer, wrote a series of
articles on dealing with loss that appeared recently in the Denver
Post. His home burned down two years ago. So, he can speak to losing
all his possessions and the roof over his head. Guessing from his
photo, he has lived long enough to survive other losses, too.
His advice offers reminders that we often forget in the midst of
loss. Here are a few of his directives.
1.Don’t let your loss define you. You are not your burned down home,
your divorce, your lost fortune or your hip surgery.
2.Don’t let your attitude and emotions poison you. Just because a
tragedy occurred doesn’t mean your life can’t move forward.
3.Take care of yourself physically. I’ve heard people say, “If my
house goes up in flames, or my relationship fails, or someone dear to
me dies, there’s no reason to eat healthfully, exercise and get
sleep.” There’s every reason. For one thing, you need to be healthy to
cope with loss. Secondly, you can’t be unhealthy enough to heal
someone else. You can’t be miserable enough to make other people happy
or bring them back into your life.
4.Write down all the things you’re grateful for. “How can I feel
gratitude when I’ve just endured a loss?” you ask. That’s a perfect
time to review your gratitudes. Rosenthal asks the reader to consider
the past year. Recall the happy events you experienced. Recall the
interesting people you met. Relive the joyful moments. Think about the
last five years. Yes. I know. There were losses then, too. But the
joy. What was the joy?
5.Rosenthal reminds us that life is for the living. Look forward to
what you want to accomplish in your life. Set a few goals and go after
them. Build and nurture your relationships, contacts and resources. Be
someone you’d like to be around.
6.That expression, “It could always be worse,” once sounded negative
to me. But, in reality, it could always be worse.
I’m speaking soon for the Colorado Conference on Poverty. There will
be hundreds of people from different public and private sector groups
who are meeting to get ahead of poverty. At first I wondered how my
topics – networking and humor – related to people enduring poverty.
After all, people suffering poverty, have bigger issues than making
connections and laughing. But, many people suffer a poverty of
relationships. Many are below the laughter, humor and joy poverty
line. Just because they are impoverished, or have losses bigger than I
can imagine, doesn’t mean they should be without relationships and
laughter. Because there is poverty, relationships and laughter are
Whatever your losses, grieve and then look forward. Grieve and then
move forward. Gather your supporters around you. You have so much joy
and accomplishment left to experience. You have so much joy and
accomplishment left to share.