12 Weeks of Peace
Week 1: Dealing with Grief
Welcome to the first of our 12 Weeks of Peace. Your grief may be a long journey, but it does not have to be a solitary one. Relating to others and sorting through your own emotions can be very difficult in this confusing and stressful time. This week we will explore some basic concepts of grief, relationships, and expectations. You will build a foundation of knowledge and understanding that you can continually fall back on throughout your mourning process. As you move through each day, remember that these are not “steps” that you need to check off as you go. It’s possible you will move back and forth through these realizations and progressions multiple times, and that is perfectly acceptable. We will highlight through all 12 weeks that your grief journey is your own, and there is no incorrect way to mourn.
Day 1: Grief is a Journey
From the beginning, it is important to understand that this will not be a step-by-step process with a finish date you can mark on the calendar. It may lessen sooner for some than others, but it never truly goes away. The goal is not to make the feelings of missing your loved one vanish, rather to learn to lessen its impact on your ability to enjoy life.
Day 2: The Beginning is Always the Hardest
Whether you knew the death was coming or you lost someone unexpectedly, a loss is always painful. It feels as though you’ve had a part of you taken away, and it may feel as though you’ll never be happy again. Relax and breathe. You are stronger than you think, and you will get through this. As hard as it may seem right now, you will learn how to cope. It won’t be easy, and it will take time. But you will learn how to enjoy life again.
“Grief can be a burden, but also an anchor. You get used to the weight, how it holds you in place.”
Day 3: Everybody Grieves in Unique Ways
A common challenge among family and friends who are coping with a loss is that sometimes, people cannot understand the behavior of others. Grief is an individual experience that depends on so many different factors: personality, life experience, religion, relationship to the person, and so much more. Try to be patient with your loved ones even if you do not understand their behavior. But most importantly, don’t feel ashamed of how YOU grieve. Sob, yell, throw a pillow, don’t try, keep busy, meditate… whatever is effective for you is the right way for YOU to grieve.
Day 4: A New Normal
When experiencing grief, it is not uncommon to think that you can never love people as much as you can miss them. That’s because having that person in your life became normal, and it’s hard to fully comprehend how large a space someone occupied in your life until that space is empty. But the reason losing this person hurts so much is because they matter to you.
Grief only exists where love first lived.
Day 5: They Will Be with You Always
It is important to remember that the ones you love will never truly leave you. In fact, you are what’s keeping their memory alive. Your memories of the way they looked, sounded, the happy times you shared … that’s where they live on.
I give you this one thought to keep,
I am with you still. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on the snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not think of me as gone.
I am with you still in each new dawn.
– Native American poem
Day 6: Apples and Oranges
Try not to compare your pain to anyone else’s. The worst kind of grief in the world is the grief that you are currently feeling. If you lost a parent, that is the worst grief imaginable. If you lost a child, there is no loss more difficult. If your best friend suddenly passed away, that’s the hardest type of loss to deal with. This is because it’s your loss. There is a natural tendency for people to compare their losses to others, and to prove their pain is the worst.
“Nothing is worse than losing a child…”
“You don’t understand, losing a spouse is the most painful grief there is…”
“The greatest loss is losing a parent….”
This back and forth does nothing but leave all parties involved tired and lonely. There are no comparisons to be made. In the end, their grief is as hard for them as yours is for you. If you are connected to someone else who is experiencing a loss, try to show each other tolerance, compassion, and support.
Grief is a solitary journey. No one but you knows how great the hurt is. No one but you can know the gaping hole left in your life when someone you know has died. And no one but you can mourn the silence that was once filled with laughter and song. It is the nature of love and death to touch every person in a totally unique way.
Day 7: Understanding Your Emotions
What are my emotions? Understand that as you move through your grief, your emotions are going to be totally unpredictable. You may feel relatively positive one moment, fall apart the next, and suddenly start to feel better. This is totally normal. Your equilibrium is completely out of balance from the shock of the loss. It is likely that your emotions will fluctuate between happy, angry, distressed, neutral, empty, despair, etc. in no particular order and seemingly out of nowhere. Just let everything happen naturally, the swings will soon lessen.