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Tips for Mourning
Dr. Dale V. Atkins, September 2007

Taking Time to Heal

Moving through mourning can take a VERY LONG TIME. Life is filled with loss. Although we may try to avoid it, it is unavoidable. Each of us needs to find our own style and timeframe for mourning.

For some people, particularly those of us who have experienced multiple losses in a short period of time, we ask, Why Me? We wonder whether feelings of happiness, pleasure, appreciation will ever return. We seriously question when we will be able to go through a day without crying for most of it.

At the same time, we are not really sure whether we can truly be ourselves when we are with those who love us and who have supported us through our darkest times. We fear they may have had enough of our anguish. We may feel our friends expect us to "bounce back", "get on with our lives", "stop feeling sorry for ourselves" but the truth is, we just don't have the energy, desire, interest, or skills to rebuild a shattered life. To protect them (and ourselves) we may spend more time alone so we can avoid the pressure to put on a happy face or act as if we are doing better than we actually are.

Bear in mind that healing from loss is a process that generally takes longer than we imagine. Perhaps these tips can help.

Tune Into Your Personal Energy Level - Be careful about how much you push yourself each day. Honor your feelings on days when you have some energy, as well as those days when your energy fades.

Evaluate Your Schedule with Friends - Spend time doing only those things where you feel no pressure at all to actively engage if you are not yet ready.

Honor or Construct Rituals - Rituals can help you through your loss. If you feel comfortable, invite your friends into the "ritual space" so they can witness, appreciate and support you as you proceed through this time.

Focus - Focus on all of your blessings as you give yourself room and permission to mourn in your own way.

You can keep loved ones' spirits alive and with you as you think of them, talk about them, and remember the way they touched your life.

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