“What we have once enjoyed deeply, we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” – Helen Keller.
Covid – 19 has ruthlessly plucked fences, flowers & fragrances from our family gardens. We as a world haven’t seen such intense negative unhealthy emotions; especially when we were least prepared about being hit by this Pandemic. The human race is therefore, finding it extremely difficult to face, cope & survive in these testing times.
I write this blog as I too grieve for my loved ones and they will always remain an integral part of my life, even though they have headed to another journey.
As a Counseling Psychologist, I want to share my approach of staying strong the REBT way and I thank all who have been a support in my journey in these crucial times.
- Grieve the bereaved.
When we lose someone, most of us resort to crying as an approach of venting out. All of us have our own ways of coping when we lose someone who is precious to us.
When a close family member leaves us for a journey unexplained, we cry. People around us support us but they say that you have to be strong. On the contrary, if there is another person in that moment from that family & who has gone numb and quiet; we would want that person to cry and let go of this overwhelming emotion, at least temporarily. “There is no grief like the grief that does not speak” – Henry Longfellow. Therefore, crying doesn’t mean we are weak & silence doesn’t mean strength.
We don’t have to push ourselves to act ‘fine.’ We need to give it time. It is human to be your vulnerable self and let that be visible. We are not weak as we are probably going through the most irrevocable loss and still moving ahead, in spite of such severe circumstances and so there is a difference in being weak and grieving. Whatever path you choose to grieve, do not abstain from expressing your emotions.
- Have a Goal – Have a routine.
I know it seems like asking for too much. But none the less, we need to realize that where and how do I move ahead? What should I do without my significant other, who has left me shattered. Goals have that power if you commit to them. They answer questions, they give us a purpose, and they stop us from wandering.
If all of a sudden I ask all of you, to just go somewhere. I am sure all of you would ask me, Where, Why, What for? But if I tell you, can you go to your kitchen and get me a glass of water. I am sure this would be easy. The experience of grieving, though is not so easy; but having a goal will help you slowly yet steadily find your ground once again.
If you think that you had goals together with that person, find your own personal goals. If keeping that person happy was your goal, find a new purpose in search of your own happiness. Unfortunately, we have to make choices, whether to move ahead or to suffer. Our loved one’s passing on, is not our doing and therefore, suffering is what you don’t deserve.
Don’t forget to have a routine. Focus on all that you did before this activating event. Your goal is to reduce the intensity of negative unhealthy emotions. Emotions are negative and unhealthy here as they will stop you from achieving your goals. Having a routine will form a loop for you to start achieving your goals. They will also balance your emotions.
- Guilt – A Toxic Emotion.
When I started practicing, I had a client who lost her spouse. It was after 29 years of this loss that she considered therapy. Her major concern was she felt this toxic emotion – Guilt, while laughing, smiling, having a good time with her children/grand children, friends.
She mentioned that having these light moments meant that she was being unfaithful to her husband. Even when she saw a mere reflection of herself smiling with her children, she would freeze.
Little by little we let go of the loss, but never the love. Moving on in life does not mean forgetting the ones we have lost. They don’t lose value because they are not physically around. Their presence is missed. I am sure those people also would want to see us happy even without them. All of us have the right to be happy and live a fully functional life.
- Stay together.
It is difficult to believe when people say, I know how you feel. When a person departs, it is not just one person who grieves. All the people who have loved them – miss them. All of them feel lost.
Bonding during these times, is like healing each other. Holding on to our loved ones give us a sense of belongingness. Sometimes it is not about belonging to someone, but belonging together. It is noteworthy that all the people understand what we are going through as they relate to us.
- You are worth it.
‘I wish, I was more careful.’, ‘I wish, I could save them.’ ‘I wish, I knew the mistakes I made.’ ‘I wish, I could do something.’ ‘I wish, I was prompt.’ – We question our capabilities a lot in these times. I am good for nothing because I couldn’t do anything for the person I loved the most. Once the feeling of losing someone sinks in, we suddenly feel worthless as a person.
If you could have, you would have saved the person you lost. Don’t be harsh on yourself. Your support to yourself is needed the most in these times. You did all that you could. Your worth is not defines by things you can’t control.
- Imbibe their traits.
When our loved ones are around, we take their presence for granted. We leave so many things on them considering that they will manage everything. It is rare that we pay attention to every quality they possess and how they make our lives worth living.
As this grief leaves a void in our life, there is so much we want to express, confess or suppress. We remember every single detail about them and we wish that we could have told them, how incredible their presence made our life.
Once again observe this person. Don’t leave any detail about them. Write everything you liked about their personality and also, what you didn’t like. Try to adapt, absorb – imbibe the qualities that you liked about them. When someone asks you, ‘how did you develop this quality?’ – You can proudly say, I picked it from the one I loved but I didn’t lose them as they still live along with me. By imbibing their strengths, you add strength to yourself. This way they will always hold you and be around you in the most special ways.
I started writing my blog with a quote from Helen Keller – “What we have once enjoyed deeply, we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.”
I comprehend that being in this situation, is probably one of the worst emotional states that we are in, but let’s not forget that we need to give ourselves that time and effort, that love and comfort by not forgetting those people but by taking them along in our lives with a different approach. There is a lot to do when we love someone rather than losing ourselves in this process of love. They were always our strength, they shall always remain so.