Grief is hard
Losing someone you love leaves a void that's hard to fill. The truth is, you survive the loss one day at a time. It takes time to heal from the pain.
As the years have passed, I've learned to accept how grief impacts me more. Instead of fighting the emotions, I allow myself to feel the feels.
In a few days, I'll be attending the funeral of a dear friend's husband. She and I have been friends for more than half of our lives. One of the conversations we had recently was the catalyst for this blog.
We talked about allowing ourselves to grieve in our own ways and on our own timelines, using coping mechanisms that suit us best.
Something struck me – a thought my friend was grappling with, which I knew all too well. I felt it at 11 when my dad passed away and again at 63 when my mom left us. The fear of losing someone else close to me crept in – not just the fear of death but the unsettling thought of losing their presence and affection.
This fear resulted in some scary dreams and daytime anxiety.
As a child, I coped by "watching over" my mom and siblings. Doing what I could to ensure they were happy. Being afraid to let a disagreement last more than a few minutes.
In my teen years, with encouragement and support, I learned to let go of the fear of loss. I came to realize, and truly believe, that when you love fully, loss is inevitable; you can't avoid it. But you miss out on so much if you hold back your love.
I'll admit I'm still uncomfortable with disagreements that carry over more than a day or two, but that discomfort now comes from a sincere desire to understand and be understood, not from a fear of loss.
When my mom passed away, I was surprised to feel that fear of loss again. It snuck up on me without warning. I felt an immediate need to check on everyone I cared about to ensure they were okay. I needed some validation. The feeling passed fairly quickly because I recognized it for what it was. But the moments of anxiety were real.
When my friend mentioned her current worries about relationships, I recognized the fear of loss in her words.
Our minds try to shield us from feeling the feels and processing grief by leading us down rabbit trails of worry and fear about losing other relationships. This way, we dodge the real pain of losing the person who has passed.
That's a loss we can do nothing to fix. But there's an illusion we can indeed prevent a loss that hasn't happened yet. By focusing on the things that haven't happened, our minds protect us from fully feeling the pain of the actual loss.
The technique I shared with my friend for dealing with her fear of relationship loss is one I use myself when I recognize negative thoughts starting down a rabbit trail of worry. I acknowledge the fear or anxiety, then I purposefully think of special memories related to the worry that make me smile. I create a mental list of positive possibilities. This practice eases the exaggerated worry.
Grief and grieving are human experiences we all share. There may be some subtle differences in how we process grief based on Perceptual Style, but overall it's universally hard.
Remember, everyone copes differently. Support makes a significant difference. Be patient with yourself and your feelings. You're navigating a tough path, but you're never alone on it.
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About Lynda-Ross Vega
Lynda-Ross Vega is a partner at Vega Behavioral Consulting, Ltd. She specializes in helping corporate leaders, entrepreneurs, and individuals with interpersonal communications, team dynamics, personal development, and navigating change. Lynda-Ross is co-creator of Perceptual Style Theory, a revolutionary behavioral psychology theory and assessment system that teaches people how to unleash their natural strengths and build the life and career they dream of. For free information on how to succeed in business and in life doing more of what you do best, visit https://www.YourTalentAdvantage.com.
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