Stacy Hurley

Stacy Hurley

Remember – Send me your stories and questions. All are confidential. You can email Ask Stacy at askstacyssw@gmail.com. You can also see follow up information and resources for each topic on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/askstacyssw.

Hurting Badly: Dear Stacy, I’m new to reading your content. I’m a little nervous. I have trouble opening up to people and I have a lot of trust issues. I’ve been through so much in my life and I also have so many questions. My question this week is: What do I do about handling grief? I lost my husband three years, four months and 15 days ago. It still hurts so badly, and I know I will never get over losing him, but how do I deal with it?

Stacy: Dear Hurting Badly, thank you for having the courage to reach out and ask your question.

Handling grief is a personal journey that no one truly understands unless they have experienced their own grief. Losing a spouse can be especially difficult since you have made future goals and plans with them. This makes grieving a constant reminder that you continue to encounter over and over, making healing ever more challenging.

Unfortunately, you are right, you will continue to hurt, and you will never get over losing him, but what you can do is learn healthy ways to live with your grief.

The main thing to remember is that we never recover from grief, and that is okay. This does not mean that your intense pain will not reduce over time. It is important that you believe in the hope of healing. “Our belief is that grief encompasses more than just pain. We believe that over time grief changes shape and comes to hold space for many different experiences and emotions – some of these experiences may be painful – like a milestone or the anniversary of a loved one’s death – but some of them may be comforting – like warm memories and the enduring role that your loved one plays in your life.” (Understanding Grief: Eleanor Haley).

I’m using “we,” because both you and I are a part of this “grief recovery” group together. “To ‘recover’ means to return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength, and as many would attest, when someone very significant dies, we never return to a pre-loss “normal”. The loss, the person who died, our grief – they all get integrated into our lives and they profoundly change how we live and experience the world.” (Understanding Grief: Eleanor Haley).

Some other thoughts on the topic:

First, there is no timeline on grief. This is a myth. So, when people tell you to move on, be sure to let them know that you appreciate their words, but you are comfortable sitting with your grief.

Second, you can have a continued relationship with those you have lost, and it is okay. Nora McInerny, in her Nov. 2018 TED Talk on grief, said it best, “A grieving person is going to laugh again and smile again,” she says. “They’re going to move forward. But that doesn’t mean that they’ve moved on.”

Third, grief emotions are not good or bad, they just are. As humans we try to compartmentalize our emotions to try to better understand them, but once again, trying to control our emotions around grief is futile since they can be triggered at any time for any reason.

Lastly, we must become comfortable with this reality, because we must be open to change and adapt to our new relationship with grief. Research shows that creating “mourning rituals” throughout the grieving process has helped many people feel more in control after the loss. Remain open and find what works for you. Here is a good place to start: www.goodtherapy.org/blog/creating-rituals-to-move-through-grief/.

The good news is that research on grief and loss shows that most people can overcome loss on their own through the passage of time with support from friends, loved ones and by implementing healthy coping strategies. If at any point the grief is too much for you to handle on your own, it is perfectly okay to consult a professional to help guide you through the process.

“Mourning the loss of a close friend or relative takes time, but research tells us that it can also be the catalyst for a renewed sense of meaning that offers purpose and direction to life.” — American Psychological Association Help Center

Here are some resources on grief and loss that you may find helpful:

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