into a New Life ~
will find new strength,
born of the very pain
which seem, at first,
impossible to master.
Daphne Du Maurer
The Journey of Grief following a loss, a crisis
or a significant life change is a very personal and often a very private
one. Each person experiences his or her own unique journey discovering
their own internal sources of strength to help him/her cope with the grief
response. In the grieving process, the bereaved person must learn how to
deal with the loss, crisis or significant change, adapt and adjust to a
new life. Despite the loss, life goes on, it moves forward and begins anew,
but it is a life forever changed.
One of the consequences of experiencing loss,
crisis or significant life change is that the grieving person must accept
that his/her life is different that it was prior to the loss and cannot
return to the way it once was. The grieving process involves learning to
adapt and adjust to a life forever changed by the loss, a life that can
change in many different waysódeveloping new skills, changing a circle
of friends, moving, changing jobs, giving up activities, taking on new
responsibilities. This quote illustrates some of the changes that may occur
and the new skills that need to be developed following the loss of a loved
I must learn
to open bottles, move the furniture, open stuck windows, go home alone,
investigate the noise in the night, eat alone, make decisions alone, handle
money alone, go on trips along, fight with service companies alone, be
sick alone, sleep alone, sing alone.
Questions for Guiding the Journey to a New Life
As I learn my
may I be empowered by
The grieving person has no control over the
loss, the crisis or life-changing event, but he/she can control the attitude
he/she will choose and how they will view events that have occurred. Coping
with the loss may require the bereaved to accept their inability to change
a situation, face the challenge of changing themselves, and most of all
how he/she will respond to the change and manage the transition to a new
life. Most people resist change, but loss forces them to change. Sometimes
the energy it takes to keep resisting and living in the past becomes more
painful than changing. The pain experienced leads to a different life,
and often a richer and more rewarding one.
|And the day came
when the risk it took
to remain tight
inside the bud
was more painful
than the risk it took
Psychologist Catherine Sanders proposes three
questions for the bereaved to think about and answer that can help in managing
the transition to a new life.
1. What do you want
to take from your old life into your new life?
The grieving person may have special memories he/she
wants to hold on to, or treasured objects that remind him/her of the lost
loved one or event. There may also be relationships from the past that
are worth preserving.
2. What do you want
to leave behind?
In starting a new life, there may be parts of the
past best to leave behind. Old negative memories, feelings of anger, resentment
or guilt may be best released, rather than carried on as excess internal
baggage. There may be objects, photos, letters, old gifts that bring up
bad feelings and should be donated or discarded as excess external baggage.
There may also be relationships, friendships that no longer seem significant
or nurturing following the loss.
3. What do you need
The bereaved may need to develop many new skills,
new responsibilities undertaken, new interests explored and new relationships
cultivated in order to cope with and survive in the new life.
A single event
can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us.
To live is to be slowly
Doka KJ. A New Life. Hospice Foundation of America.
Journeys Newsletter. March 2002.
us to change.
We don't like change
and most of the time we fear it and fight it.
We like to remain in
emotionally familiar places
even through sometimes
those places are not healthy for us.
On occasion, the suffering
is so great that we have to give up.
We surrender the old
and begin anew.
Often it is the pain
we experience that leads us, not only to a different life,
but a richer and more