The biggest secret in adapting to loss and massive change is to fully understand and strongly believe that it all begins from the inside. This simply means, while it is good to have a nurturing support network and a safe place to go with your emotions, in the final analysis, what you do, specifically the choices you make is the big difference. Your decisions alone will result in adapting to and living with the pain of your great loss or adding unnecessary suffering to the process.
Assuming you realize the critical role you must play in your healing, here are three coping strategies that I believe are essential that you master in the aftermath of the death of your loved one. They are based on my 35 years of experience in the field.
1. Be open to new ideas, experiences, insights from other mourners, beliefs, and ways to cope that you have previously been unaware of or have given little or no consideration. The key word is openness. Most of us are fixed on and react based on what we have been taught early in life about grief and death. Regrettably, that cultural education is commonly replete with falsehoods and limiting beliefs as well as poor grief models. Not infrequently, it is further grounded in the philosophy of rugged individualism and the denial that our great pain is a natural human response, the result of having loved well.
On the other hand, there is so much updated information available from professionals, others who have adapted well, reading resources, and on the Internet that could be useful. It is our job to study and examine what we can use and let the rest go. But this all presupposes you are open to the new. Enthusiasm for growth is something that should be a priority throughout life. There is so much out there to learn that can help immensely when confronted with various lifelong challenges.
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