By Tracy Lee
Special to the Sun
After living through funeral week and enduring the two weeks of company and well-wishers that follow, the survivor may think they are ready for a break from social supporters.
Unfortunately, the lack of social support makes weeks four through eight some of the toughest the survivor will experience.
These particular weeks are wrought with difficulties. Loneliness increases, irritation increases, pain increases, and just about everything else that is unwelcome increases. It is during these four weeks that the survivor must begin the decisive restructuring of his/her life.
The key step to recovery is to decide to recover. (Grief Brief 208, Mourning Light III, 2019) At this point, the survivor has no viable alternative other than to begin the battle of recovery. Should the survivor choose otherwise, the ensuing lack of forward movement will result in increased anguish and suffocating solitude? These results will lead the survivor toward a complicated grief experience.
Such results are not healthy nor desirable.
These next four weeks will propel the survivor into depths of anguish never before realized. This excruciating pain is what motivates us to reach toward recovery. Without it, we would sit mindlessly sad, sheltered in our homes cut off from all others, until one day that sadness would be our life’s end. How fortunate for us that the miracle of unbearable pain motivates us to change.
Before we realize it, we have begun overcoming our deficiencies. As we work through learning new skill sets, we realize that we are suddenly able to do more than we thought possible. Pain and dire circumstances are powerful motivators, they are not however, the answer to all of our woes. Although we may be able to do more for ourselves, we must psychologically accept and commit ourselves to consciously desiring and actively seeking recovery.
The beginning of week four usually marks the exodus of most well-wishers. Fewer people call to check on the survivor and even fewer drop by. Suddenly, that house full of people who may have begun grating on the survivor’s nerves may now be eerily quiet as one faces alone the reality of horrifying grief. At this juncture, the survivor begins to understand the severity of his/her situation. Some call this task Grief Work. I call it Self-Will Realignment.
Due to their discomfort, family and friends spend fewer minutes visiting with the survivor. They want the survivor to move on and get back to normal. They do not understand that this is not yet possible.
Against their will, the survivor is forced into an undesired reality. Forced change is difficult to swallow. Without the assistance of the one whom you love most in life and with whom you have established your existence, undesired change can be very elusive. Nevertheless, the fact remains that in order to progress, you must change not only your actions but your will as well.
During these four weeks of change, a survivor will begin experiencing irritations as he/she now must develop a new skill set that their loved one may have previously provided. This irritation easily slips into anger. Anger may be followed by guilt. Guilt compounds the difficulties of recovery.
Nevertheless, these four weeks heavy with sadness, loneliness, and fear, bring on the toughest month ever lived. They are the gateway to realizing and realigning one’s will for recovery. During these four weeks, survivors may resent those who stay away or avoid them. They may also resent those who come by and visit.
It is a time filled with discontent and confusion, and a multitude of conflicting emotions and thoughts. The survivor often vacillates between moving forward and falling backward. Although the survivor may not realize it, decisive action, companionship, and a good mental attitude are essential for their will to realign and move them along the path of a healthy recovery.
Grief Recovery Success
Success in moving through grief depends on your willingness to recover. If you are the type of person that enjoys or thrives on being a victim, you will most likely travel very slowly through recovery.
You must decide that you want to recover, that you are willing to move your loved one into a memory, and that you are going to overcome your heartache. Without these decisions, you will remain trapped within your recurring grief cycle indefinitely.
I suggest exploring your options. Check out support groups, find a grief buddy (a friend, acquaintance, or family member who has experienced and recovered from loss, and who is willing to guide you through positive recovery), or if you prefer a more quiet approach, visit with a grief specialist. Allowing yourself to remain trapped in your grief cycle will land you in an undesirable, unhealthy, complicated grief scenario.
Trapping oneself in such a scenario renders recovery unobtainable without professional assistance.
This is a very unhappy and uncomfortable place to find yourself. A much more preferable scenario is to take the bull by the horns from the get-go, decide to be proactive rather than reactive, and move yourself forward to recovery.
Professional assistance is always an option, however, the fact remains, that success through grief’s treacheries depends on your decision to recover.