‘Stay busy,’ I’d been told. ‘Time will heal your pain.’
Have you ever been given this advice?
If so, you have probably already figured out that staying busy doesn’t help heal your grief.
I went back to work five days after my husband took his own life. I had a son to take care of, to worry about, to try to comfort. I got back into my normal routine as soon as I could.
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Months later, I was still on a mission to stay busy. After weeks of planning, getting passports, arranging for pet-sitters, my son and I were in Purulhá, Guatemala, staying with friends. One day during that busy trip, we found ourselves stuck in the house due to the weather.
All of the sudden, with no place to go and nothing that needed to be done, I just broke down and cried. I realized that my busyness, my running-as-fast-as-I-could-from-one-place-to-the-next was getting me nowhere when it came to my healing process.
So if staying busy doesn’t help us get through the grieving process, what does?
Take the time to mourn
To mourn is to feel or express sadness for the death or loss of someone or something.
The first time I sat down to mourn (on purpose) was the anniversary of our marriage. I pulled out all the romantic cards and pictures from when we dated, and I once again read his wishes for me, and for us, to have a beautiful life together. I cried over the fact that it didn’t turn out how we planned.
My son sat next to me, because I wanted to communicate with him openly about how I felt and how much I missed his dad. I wanted to show him that it was okay to be sad and grieve: it wasn’t something to hide or be ashamed of. And it really helped us both heal a little more.
Talk About Your Grief
I’m an introvert at heart, and for a long time I’ve been reserved about anything related to my husband’s death, and my own healing process. Now, two and a half years later, a strange need to talk about my grief has come over me.
If you’ve lost someone you love, you may find that talking about your loss, and the feelings you have, brings you some comfort. But if you aren’t ready to open up and say the words out loud, start with writing them down.
Read more about how healing it can be to open up about our grief: Using Words to Heal Grief
Part of my busyness at that time was helpful: I didn’t realize it then, but I was in the process of figuring out a new plan, a new future for my son and I. How would that future look? Were we going to be okay?
With every positive action we took, (and that included taking the time to grieve and mourn,) we were helping our outlook, and our future.
That trip to Guatemala did help us in many ways: I learned to slow down, and that even though remembering hurt, it was a necessary process. We met amazing people who stayed positive no matter what challenges they faced, and our horizons were broadened with every new scene.
If you are trying to cope with loss, and soften your grief, then just stop. Breathe. Remember. It may be painful, but with every memory, with every shared story, you can heal a little more.
Here are a few resources that have helped my son and I.
Let me know your story below. Share and be heard.