Grief is many things, but at its most fundamental level it is a transformational journey. We are profoundly changed by the experience of grief. Understanding the entire journey as the personal transformation that it is, can help put the daily roller coaster ride into perspective.
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We are not healing grief. Grief is healing us from the death of someone we love.
Grief is a transformational journey that begins with being shattered.
When someone dies, everything we thought we knew about our life and our sense of self is shattered. It leaves us feeling disoriented and confused.
After the shattering comes the sorting.
We go through all the broken pieces of our life trying to figure out where they belong. Some no longer fit at all, while others will need some modification. New pieces have emerged which we need to find room for, while others are quite transitory.
Then comes the act of putting it all back together.
It’s not about going back to who you were before the death. Rather it’s about integrating this experience of grief and death into your life. Who are you going forward?
In the end, life is intoxicating and will pull us back in.
Many people get to this point without making conscious choices and do fine. Much of the grieving process does unfold quite naturally even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time.
Many others grapple with issues of purpose and meaning as they move into the future.
Questions may have been lurking in our minds without answers for much of the first year.
Questions such as:
- Who am I going forward?
- Where do I want to go in my life now?
- What is my life going to look like? And what do I want it to look like?
Answers begin to emerge toward the end of the first year and into the second, and sometimes the third.
It is not uncommon for people to land in what I think of as a limbo state (that’s the word I was trying to come up with).
It looks a lot like depression but it’s not. For the most part, they are doing well but life lacks any real spark. Now is the time to be asking those deep questions about identity, meaning, purpose and passion.
Why it’s important to see the big picture.
- No matter where you are in your grief journey, you’re not going to stay there. That’s very good news for those of you in the first few months after a death when you can’t imagine ever feeling any better.
- We don’t get to go back to the life we had before. But we do have an opportunity (I know none of us asked for it) to create a new life filled with purpose, passion, and meaning.
- So wherever you are on the journey, know it is part of a larger journey and there will be many changes along the way, and that’s a good thing.
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