Healing journey is a unique experience to individuals. The time it takes to heal can vary from person to person and there could be unpredictable ups and downs throughout. This whole experience depends on various factors related to our personality, the kind of support we get, our circumstances etc. Also, it’s been noticed that our receptiveness is a catalyst, that triggers an early start and a fast progress in our healing journey.
During our bereavement, we are likely to be trapped in an emotional confinement, which hinders the positive outlook towards life and the ability to be coherent. If we recognise our real circumstances and are aware of the path ahead of us, we can emerge from this emotional confinement skilfully. With that in mind, I am going to enlighten you on some common tendencies in a bereavement and healing experience, as phases in chronological order, so that you know what your healing journey is more or less going to be like…
It is not possible to predict how we, as individuals, would first react to a death of a loved one. Our initial response can be anything; intense weeping, shock, self-restraint or mere silence.
This initial bearing that one would demonstrate, depends on their character, experience, beliefs, insight and mainly, the prevailing circumstances – specially, the responsibilities they hold.
Also, our initial reaction to the loss of our beloved is not indicative of how we are going to handle our bereavement in future.
The very first few days after a death would most probably be turbulent, both mentally and physically and it would also be a period of shared-grief among the family members, close relatives and friends. This period passes so quickly and with just a superficial knowledge on the true meaning of what has just happened…
Time after the initial stage, specially after the funeral, is when the reality hits us and our real response to the loss becomes apparent. In the absence of unusual events and congregation, our true suffering starts.
When it is implied that it is time to take on the routine life again, our grief intensifies as we start feeling the gravity of the transformation our lives have just undergone with the bereavement.
Some people, though devastated at the beginning, would recover from their grief comparatively sooner than others. But for others, it would be the opposite. They would be gradually spiralling down to a more intense heartache.
During the mourning period, you are encouraged to indulge in expressing your feelings by crying (if you want to), talking, writing and engaging in shared activities etc to sustain (a short-termed) relief. My future posts will discuss more about what you ‘should’ and ‘should not’ do during this period.
The said pain-relief activities, along with time, coax our internal sense to comprehend and accept the reality – that our loved one is dead and the death is irreversible. This is an essential and effective self-learning process.
It is a critical milestone in your healing journey, when your mind starts catching a glimpse of this reality, on and off.
After some time, this realization will frequent your mind more regularly and stay longer. This indicates that your course is becoming steady.
Throughout our healing journey, we persistently need the support from others, by way of discussions, counselling, companionship, support in daily activities, supply of helpful audio-visual materials, engagement in shared activities, etc to remind us of the reality and to get accustomed to the new normality.
In your progress, to your surprise, you will find at one point, that you are able to talk about your late beloved and your memory about them, without shedding tears or rather, less tears in your eyes.
Further into your healing journey, you will also notice that you can concentrate on something else for a longer period now, in contrast to what has been a constant struggle to think about anything other than your lost intimate.
This means you are now in control of your emotions and your journey is solid and reliable. At this time, the acceptance of the death of your beloved is established in you, both inwardly and outwardly.
End of healing journey
Passing all these four stages does not mean that you have overcome your grief completely. Losing our loved ones is life-changing as so much of your life was wrapped up in what is now gone, so you will never go back to where you were. Healing is about learning how to cope with your loss and grief. You are healed means, you have learnt to live your life with the void left in your life, yet with restraint. During your healing journey, you figure out how to continue on with everyday life, as you finally and fully accept that they are gone. The intensity of your heartache, and its effect on your life, will ease gradually.
Before I wind up today, here are couple of advices that will be useful in making your healing journey.
- Use your internal sense of safety to stay safe and sane until time heals your wounds.
- Those who are at different stages in your healing journey, please keep reminding yourselves of the importance of healing.
- My previous post “What it is like to survive the bereavement” would help keep you inspired in your journey.
I’ll discuss different aspects of the healing journey in more details, in the next posts. Until then, if you do not mind, please share with others your experience about managing a difficult situation, by adding your comments below. There is nothing as valuable as first-hand experience to learn something from.
In the meantime, if you have questions about how to manage your existing situation which disturbs you, please do not hesitate to contact me. You can either write your message below or use the contact form or email address firstname.lastname@example.org to reach me.