Sunday, February 8, 2015

Proactive Grieving Part 1

How we process grief in this country has gone under a dramatic transformation, according to Mitch Carmody, bereaved father and well-known speaker for Compassionate Friends and other organizations.

Carmody believes in proactive grieving, that is embracing your grief, taking ownership, finding out more about it, going through it and not around it, and living the loss and not postponing it.

“People are starting to take control of their own journey,” he said. “We have a whole new perspective on loss and recovery. We are starting to talk about loss, show grief on roads, fences, football fields, wherever we can that is appropriate, and even talk it out.”

People have the power to help themselves by helping others. Grief is a life-long journey measured in years, not months. It is what we do in those years that can turn loss to legacy. It takes a long time to process grief. We have good days and bad days; some days we have to start over. By recognizing this, we can control our grief.

Proactive grieving is not going through stages but it is more akin to ascending a stairway…each step negotiated one at a time—on your own time. On his stairway, he has chosen a new model for grieving: shock, trauma, acceptance, introspection, reinvestment and serenity.

With shock, you can’t believe this is happening. You may walk around for months, performing at a perfunctory level, not knowing what we’re doing.

In the trauma stage reality creeps in. The sympathy cards stop coming. People stop calling. This can last months to years. It is critical to move on to the next phase.

Acceptance is where we are challenged to make a difference. People are ignorant of our journey. We must educate them. Help yourself by taking off your mask and let people know we are still grieving.
This leads to introspection and insight. We can’t change what has happened. We need to find ways to go through the journey by looking inside.

By reinvesting we rebuild and have renaissance in our lives. How can I find joy again, laugh again. Reach out to others in honor of your child. When we feel joy, we’ll know it in our mental and physical state.

Then we can possibly find peace, serenity. This is Carmody’s life now. We don’t choose this new life, but it is our life now. We can use every strength of our being as a legacy to our loved one. That’s what will bring us back and make us whole again, according to Carmody. Finding peace is going through grief, not around it, by processing your loss, adapting to its reality and building a new future as a legacy to the loved one who died. Finding peace is turning loss into legacy.

Who can talk about our child better than we can. We become their voice, their arms, their hands. They should have been our legacy, but now it is the other way around: they can help us do that and together it is synergistic. Where do we start? … to be continued next week

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