Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Acronym TEAR As Related To Grief

I read in a recent article that grief work can be summarized by the acronym TEAR:

T = To accept the reality of your loss
E = Experience the pain of your loss
A = Adjust to the environment without the deceased
R = Reinvest in the new reality

This made a lot of sense to me. All four of these are important if you are to move through your grief journey.

I remember at first when my daughter died, it was like she had just gone away for a while and that I would see her again. I was denying the loss, probably because I couldn’t believe this had happened to me. It took three years before I realized she wouldn’t be coming back. That is probably the reason that when people ask me which year was the worst, I always respond: the third year.

Losing a child is like no other loss you can ever experience. The feelings that go along with this are horrific and almost unbearable. I brought this child into the world. I nourished and watched her grow. She was my future and now both our futures are gone. These are the thoughts that might run through one’s mind, along with many others, most prominent being, “Why did this happen? What did I do to deserve this? Why me?” During this time you don’t feel like doing anything. Time has stopped for now. But as time passes, you learn to deal with the death and live one minute a day, one hour a day and one day at a time. It is almost like you must relearn to get out of bed, get dressed, eat, go to work. I always think of the man who had to make a list of what he had to do each day so he could learn how to function again after the death of his son. When the time came that he could accomplish one thing on the list, he would feel good and cross it off. It took a long time for him to get through the list, but when he did, he was reassured that he was a survivor.

Life does indeed go on and it goes on without your child. There are many things you did with your child that you may no longer want to even attempt to do. When a friend invites you to a baseball game, your first thought may be, “I did that with my daughter. I can’t ever go to another baseball game.” You will find that if you do go, it will definitely be difficult, but when it’s over, you can look back and breathe a sigh of relief that you made it through. It is these “firsts” that are the most difficult, and there will be a lot of firsts in your new life. Marcy died 4 months after her marriage and a friend of mine was marrying her son off to a beautiful girl. She wanted me to attend, and it was only 6 months after Marcy died. I couldn’t go. I knew I would break down and cry and didn’t want to in front of others. So I asked her to please excuse me, but I couldn’t attend. She understood. But now, many years later I do go to other weddings. Sure, I think of Marcy, but it is with happy thoughts of what a beautiful bride she was and what a beautiful wedding it was. Ironically, I will be attending a niece’s wedding in October, to be held on Marcy’s wedding day. I don’t know how I’ll feel, but I think it will be all right. Enough time has passed, and I’ve adjusted to an environment without my daughter. But it takes a lot of time and effort to live in a world without your child.

I had to define new goals and new priorities in my life after the death of my child. I am now a different person and the new me needs to share with others who have had the same experience as I have, to help others who need a friendly ear, and to share with others new-found wisdom about life and death. Throwing yourself into your daily routine, exercising, and eating right all help to make you feel better. Call friends and family; they all care about you and your well-being.

Dealing with death and the aftermath is very stressful so rest and don’t overtax yourself. Don’t be upset if you start crying at any moment. It is a normal part of the grieving process and will happen often. It will also release all the tension of the day or week that has built up. Don’t feel guilty about it. Lastly, don’t forget to do something for yourself. It could be shopping, walking, or just reading a good book. The grief journey is hard work and you need to do whatever helps you cope best.


  1. God bless you, today and forever. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Nice write up! And I like the acronym also.