When I spoke to a support group recently about grieving the losses of illness, one part they found really helpful was the idea of grieving on purpose. Grief is one of those things that you need to make a conscious effort to keep in balance. Mostly we want to avoid painful feelings, to push them away and distract ourselves, hoping they will go away on their own. . The trouble is negative feelings don’t go away on
their own. Instead we have to pay attention to them. Unresolved grief is traumatic, and it keeps disrupting your life like a festering wound that won’t heal. On the other hand, once we start noticing or talking about painful feelings, we may become overwhelmed by them, preoccupied with them, and stuck in grief. Contrary to popular belief, endlessly discussing or processing feelings without reaching a state of resolution or acceptance is not helpful.
One way to keep grief in balance is to grieve on purpose. The idea is to set aside a specific amount of time most everyday so that you are intentional in processing a small amount everyday. The second part is that you are mindful of switching out of the state of grief. That is, you use a healthy form of distraction to hit your mind’s “reset button” so to speak. Try this:
I am a health and happiness psychologist. I had an amazing opportunity to care for my late husband with dementia that brought everything into focus: love, purpose, healing, self-care, and living without regrets. You can read more of my story here.
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