“We are the walking wounded. Our lives are seemingly normal for those looking at us from the outside, but we know differently – for a broken heart doesn’t show from the outside,” said a participant in my grief support group. It is true that life continues following the death of a loved one. Groceries still need to be bought and clothes laundered. Jobs require our attendance and our attention. Little league games, dance recitals, graduations and weddings still take place. For those grieving, it takes enormous effort to participate in these rituals of life. The daily “got-to-dos” and the occasional “special event” all beckon to us at a time when we would rather just curl up until the world begins to make sense again.

 

So how can you function when your heart is not in it? How can you find a way to care if you eat a hot meal or just make a bowl of cold cereal do for dinner? The bigger question is – How can you be anything but involved with life? It calls to you each day. It urges you to get up and be a part of it. Not in spite of your grief, but becauseof it. The only way to journey through grief is to get up each day and see what the Universe brings your way.

 

We are social beings by nature, so staying home hibernating does not help us to feel better. Our emotional pain does not diminish if we become a recluse nor can we sleep our pain away. When we are out in the world doing our “normal” routine that has now become anything but normal, it allows us to reach out to others for help and understanding. It allows us to remember our loved one and how they were a part of this schedule and, how in some ways, still are.

 

Distraction can be a wonderful tool when mourning a loss. Staying busy can keep you from thinking too much about what has changed in your life and you may even catch yourself having a laugh or two with others. Used skillfully, distraction can bring you into the present moment where healing can take place. So much of grief is looking back with regret or forward with fear. It is only when we are truly present that we can get a bit of relief from the overwhelming emotional pain. Working, shopping, even ironing can help you regroup and realign. However, too much distraction that does not allow you the time and space to grieve is not healthy either. You must find a balance between time to get quiet and remember and time for busy-ness.

 

This may not be easy, but the world still calls to you. There are things to do and people to meet and somehow you need to find the inner strength to get out and be a part of it all. While others may not understand why you seem distant or sad, for your heart is unseen, being with others is still the best salve for your hidden wound. Remember the immortal words of Robert Frost, “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” It does… and so will you.

 

 

Nancy Weil is a leading authority on humor and grief. She serves as Director of Grief Support for eleven cemeteries and is a Certified Funeral Celebrant and Grief Management Specialist. Through her company, The Laugh Academy, she offers products to ease the stress and pain that grief can bring. Bandages for Your Heart on DVD or CD, Laugh for the Health of It on CD and her new book, If Stress Doesn’t Kill You, Your Family Might, can be ordered by clicking here.

 

 

Image: Flickr Creative Commons/kelsey_lovefusionphoto

 

 

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Comment by Nancy Weil on July 2, 2012 at 11:36am

While I understand how challenging even the daily rituals of life can become after the death of your loved one, there are still opportunities to find joy each day. It may be difficult to be around your "couple" friends, yet in grief support groups you will be with people who understand what you are going through. I have found that it is necessary to "push" yourself and try things that may be uncomfortable to you- in doing so, you may find that you are having a good time and end up glad that you did it. Please know that you can adapt to this new life you are now living. You may need support from a group or a counselor, but there is still more for you to do and I pray that you will find your way.

Comment by Nancy Weil on July 2, 2012 at 11:36am

While I understand how challenging even the daily rituals of life can become after the death of your loved one, there are still opportunities to find joy each day. It may be difficult to be around your "couple" friends, yet in grief support groups you will be with people who understand what you are going through. I have found that it is necessary to "push" yourself and try things that may be uncomfortable to you- in doing so, you may find that you are having a good time and end up glad that you did it. Please know that you can adapt to this new life you are now living. You may need support from a group or a counselor, but there is still more for you to do and I pray that you will find your way.

Comment by Marie on July 2, 2012 at 8:42am

How stange to see in words what I feel every day. It has been 22 months and it is all just a matter of going through the motions. I was going through his things this past weekend.  It so hard to go on but our son does his best to keep me going.  I don't particularly care to go out and the majority of our friends are just not there anymore.  Couples feel very strange to have you around.  I must be a reminder of how quickly life can change.  After 43 years of love, laughter and so many good times I can't be around them either if the truth be told.  I finally went to a party this past April, I felt like the elephant in the room...never will I do that again.  So what is left?  In the beginning I lived by the words my girlfiend sent me, "Get up, Dress Up and Show up"  But still right now, I feel there is nothing really special in life anymore, we made every day special by being together....so you go to work, you go grocery shopping, you do enough to get by and hope time passes quickly.  The world may be calling but I not sure I really want to answer.

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