Welcome to Week Two of Bereavement Boot Camp; your continued "kick start" on your Healing Journey. Don't worry if you missed Week One (or any week hereafter), you can jump in whenever you like.
This week's theme is an important reminder and one that every single one of us (myself included) needs to hear periodically:
Your Healing Journey belongs to no one else but you... and given that your Healing Journey belongs to only you, any opinions that are not supportive, helpful, encouraging or otherwise help to take you in the direction in which you wish to go -- are irrelevant.
Unfortunately many people (both those who are coping with loss and those who surround them) make comparisons to the speed of other people's recovery or to other loss experiences in general. Worse, there may be people around you who are so uncomfortable with your grief that they really just want you to "hurry up already". This generally manifests itself in the incredibly overused (and stupid) phrase:
"You should be 'over it' by now"
(...or words to that effect).
It's OK to roll your eyes.
The problem here is two-fold. First, there is absolutely no such thing as getting "over it". The phrase is a complete myth (along with time healing all wounds). Secondly, the people who are in need of support are oftentimes listening to those saying things like "Get over it".
Listening to those folks is not going to be helpful to or for you. Plus, they are just plain wrong.
The sad reality is that a large majority of people coping with loss or life-challenge have heard this phrase at least once during the Healing Journey. But what happens when you hear these words and inside, you're thinking, "Well, I'm not over it, so clearly there is something wrong with me." Here's what happens. Your brain locks in on the "There's something wrong with me" part of that negative thought and that is exactly where your focus goes. You actually begin to think that something is wrong with you.
The reality is that the people who are telling you to "get over it" and ultimately deny you ownership of your Healing Journey are saying this because it would be easier for them if you get over it. This isn't at all about what is best for you; rather, it is easier for them if you hurry up because they don't want to deal with you or your grief. It is easier for them if you would just conform to their healing timeline, which by the way, is the timeline that they are using to dictate to you. Most of all, they are uncomfortable with you. They want you to be the person that you were before loss or misfortune visited your life. People do not realize that it is completely impossible for you to be the person you were "before"... because significant loss changes you. Forever. Furthermore, until or unless those negative people around you experience a life-altering set of circumstances, they are not likely to be stricken with a sudden case of compassion for what it is that you are going through and your sincere efforts to move through that set of circumstances to a place of peace.
The facts are these -- pay attention: Not everyone is going to get you. Not everyone is going to understand you. Not everyone is going to approve of you, what you do or how you go about doing it; especially when it comes to your Healing Journey. There is also no denying that words cut as sharply as any knife can (a lesson of which I myself have been reminded by those who are both ill-mannered and less than enlightened). However, you must remember that a negative opinion is both momentary and unimportant. Come to think of it, negative people in general are unimportant and as such, they cannot become a major factor on your Healing Journey.
I further promise you this: No one is actually sitting around thinking about how you are handling your Healing Journey or anything connected with it. People are far more concerned with their own lives... and yet you might be letting negative opinions affect or outright interfere with your own journey. You must realize that this is how negative people operate -- they venture unsolicited and useless opinions and then quickly move on to find someone else on whom to foist their unsolicited insights.
You must stay true to you. You must commit to surrounding yourself with the positivity and support that is out there in any and all forms. Negative idiots need not apply to be a part of your life. You have neither the time nor the energy for them. You instead have healing to do -- and you can do this.
Understanding the likelihood that most of the people in your life really do care about you, if you do get fed up with the same person (or people) telling you what to do, what not to do or how you should conduct any part of your Healing Journey, simply smile and ask, "How is your Healing Journey going for you?" You do not have to be rude, but you can be very clear in letting them know exactly who is in charge of your Healing Journey (that would be you) and that they should perhaps back off a bit.
There will always be people around you who will want you to be "over it" quickly because they are uncomfortable with your grief. You know what? That's just too bad. What is the fastest way to total grief recovery? Not trying to be "fast" about it! After you embrace that you don't get "over it" (you slowly begin to move forward from the experience), commit to taking the time and the steps that you need to take in order to recover in your own way and in your own time.
Here is your second Boot Camp Affirmation. Print it out and keep it in front of you:
"My Healing Journey... is mine. It belongs to no one else. I cannot be compared to any other people and my loss can't be compared to any other loss experience. Even though there may be people around me who wish I would, I cannot "hurry up" my grief and for that reason, I will not try to rush through my healing processes. I accept that healing is neither fast nor easy and I will therefore truthfully honor whatever it is that I'm feeling when I am feeling it; rather than let others' opinions dictate how I "should" be feeling."
BOOT CAMP CHALLENGE: This week, you are going to honor how you are feeling at this point on your Healing Journey. Everyone seeks their comfort in different ways and you are going to choose to do something that brings a smile to your face and warmth to your heart. Within the next week, set aside time to do something that is going to bring you a measure of comfort. It can be as little as twenty minutes to yourself or it can be a full day. You can spend this special time with a close friend or choose to spend it alone. This time might include anything from spending time with your faith, to visiting a favorite coffee house, bookstore or scenic area near your home. It could be working out to really loud music (which is how I chose to cope when I was angry -- and still do). The important thing to remember is that this is about you honoring your feelings honestly and shutting out any opinions that do not support your efforts to move forward.
Next Monday: Bereavement Boot Camp Week #3: Stop Putting Off Proactivity!
Carole's latest book, "Happily Even After..." has won the prestigious Books for a Better Life Award. For more information about Carole Brody Fleet and Widows Wear Stilettos, please visit www.widowswearstilettos.com
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