By Donna O’Toole, M.A.
Here are some lanterns to light the path and guide you on your journey through grief toward healing. These are guidelines written by path-finders who have traveled this road before.
- Seek and Accept Support – You need acceptance and caring through grief. If you lack support, make finding it your first goal. Start with family, friends, clergy, or call a local counseling agency or school counselor for advice.
- Accept Your Grief – Time alone may not heal grief. To work through grief, you must accept and deal with it. Remember it is a natural healing process. Roll with its tides.
- Find Models – You may need evidence that survival and growth are possible. Look for someone who can give you this hope. Books and support groups may be good places to begin.
- Learn About Grief – Many people who have learned about grief have said, “I found out I’m not crazy, I’m grieving.” Understanding grief can make it safer and more predictable.
- Express It – Without expression, grief can leave you frozen and stoic. Find someone who is willing to listen to your story again and again. You may also want to express it privately through music, art, poetry, or a journal.
- Accept Your Feelings – Grief has many feelings, some very intense. Accept them, and they will help you learn about yourself and the meaning of your loss. Lock them up inside you, and you will lock away parts of yourself.
- Pace Yourself – Grief takes energy. You may tire easily. A slower pace alternated with periods of diversion and mild exercise will maximize healing. Good nutrition also helps.
- Involve Yourself in Work or Meaningful Activity – It can help you maintain direction, control and purpose and occupy your time.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Have Fun – Laughter IS good medicine. Allow yourself opportunities for diversion and freshness. Children and pets are great providers of healing. Nurture a friendship with someone who can help you play.
- Hitch Your Wagon to a Star – Like the song says, “You’ve got to have hope…miles and miles of hope…” Faith is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to go on when fear is present. Healing will come eventually.