12 Weeks of Peace
Week 8: Positive and Proactive
It is so important to take care of your mental health right now. You are dealing with extreme distress, and you need to check in on yourself. Week 8 will take you through many different reflections and questions that will help you determine if your mental health is holding up. Not in the literal sense of “am I happy or depressed,” but by asking questions whose answers (if you’re honest) will reveal you. This week will also attempt to guide you through the confusing and paradoxical position that grief puts you in. It may be daunting, but we’ll confront it together.
Day 50: Forget the "Past" Tense
When someone dies, the only thing that’s past tense about them is their physical body. The place they hold in your heart, the ways they’ve changed you, your memories … all of that is a current and present force in your life and it always will be. “I loved them” doesn’t express how much you still love them. If you’ve lost a father, it’s not “he was a wonderful dad,” but “he IS a wonderful dad.” After all, you’re going to carry his lessons, influences, and wisdom with you every day. He’s still there. That person is part of your life, and they always will be.
Day 51: My Grief is My Own
Grief reminds me
To love more openly
To express more freely
To feel more deeply
To live more fully
Grief reminds me
Of all that I have lost
And all that I still have
Of all that I was
And all that I can be
Grief reminds me
The memories made
The memories still to make
Of what has been done
Of what is left to do
Grief reminds me that love never dies.
Day 52: Life After Loss
Losing someone you love is probably the hardest tragedy to overcome, but there is life after loss. It’s possible to heal and move forward.
My little sister Becky died very suddenly on 2 March 2015. Simply, its agony. I’m in my first year at university and having returned, its hard, but I’ve found that people want to help, although most don’t know how.
Grief comes in waves. Sometimes you can cope and be happy and there is nothing wrong with that, and other times something small will trigger a tidal wave of emotion that makes you want to crawl into bed and hide, and that’s okay too.
Just keep getting up in the morning and keep on talking to people and doing things. I know Becky is there, and I know that she wouldn’t want my life to stop because hers did. Most of all, I know there is a huge hole that physically hurts in my chest. I know how proud I am of her and how much I love her and always will. It will get better.
-via Hope Again
Day 53: Is Religion Right for You?
How could God let this happen? What did I do to deserve this? What did my loved one do to deserve to die? These are all normal reactions after a loss. Many people find comfort in religion and the notion that their loved one is in a better place, but it’s okay if you need to distance yourself from faith while in mourning. Take as much time as you need, but you don’t have to fully give up on the idea of embracing religion. Take it one day at a time. Gradually revisit the idea of accepting support and comfort from religion, and do so if and when you are ready.
Day 54: Tips for Mental Health in Grief
- Stay positive
The first step towards healing is deciding you can and want to heal. This is harder than it sounds, particularly when enduring a significant loss. You may feel guilty about being happy, or maybe you just don’t want to feel happy. There is definitely great value in allowing yourself to fully feel your grief and sadness, but you cannot spend the rest of your life in a dark place. A positive and hopeful attitude can get you through your bad days.
- Helping others can help you
If you find yourself spending days at a time sitting in your room feeling empty, this is a great opportunity to help others AND yourself. Find local charity or non-profit organizations, and get involved.
In fact, make it about your loved one. If they passed from cancer, try participating in American Cancer Society events. If they were victims of drunk driving, Mothers Against Drunk Driving raises awareness for drunk driving laws and holds talks and events to educate people in the dangers of drunk driving. Lost someone to suicide? Volunteer at the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. There are many organizations and volunteer groups. Making a real, positive impact in the lives of others will undoubtedly make you feel better.
Day 55: I Thought of You Today...
I thought of you today,
you jumped right in,
unannounced, bold and refreshing
like a sudden spring shower.
Your smile brushed my heart
while the vision of you enchanted
like a rainbow,
all beauty and delight.
Even though my heart aches
for your touch,
my soul is drenched
with the goodness of you.
It felt good to think of you.
Like fireworks, my memories
exploded, colorful and inspiring,
I closed my eyes,
saw you run and jump,
heard you laugh, felt your life.
You live, you always will.
My tears still come,
by my smiles abound.
You are beauty and joy,
spirit and life.
I don’t think of what I lost when you died,
but what I have, and will always have.
You’ll live in me forever.
Day 56: The Paradox of Grief
It’s confusing that grief is a paradox of happy and sad. The reason something feels so bad is because it felt so good. Your grief teaches you how deeply sad you can be, and how much you can love. You know deep grief because you’ve known deep joy. You aren’t sad when strangers pass you by and you never see them again, because they were in your life for an inconsequential moment. But when your spouse or child dies, you are overwhelmed with stress, grief and despair. This doesn’t mean the love and joy you had with them has gone away. It is still there, buried under the grief. Your challenge is to sort through the extreme sorrow of losing them and transition it into appreciation and happiness that you had them in your life. You’ll never make your grief vanish, but this isn’t a bad thing. Your grief for the loss of this person is hand in hand with your love for them, and you’ll never lose that either.
So do not evade grief through suppressing emotions or looking to substances or distractions to keep it at bay. Once you embrace and accept your grief by letting it into your life, the love and happiness that’s been hiding underneath can come back to the surface.
The highest tribute to the dead is not grief, but gratitude.