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Getting Back a Zest for Life After a Loss: Using Your Imagination

Getting Back a Zest for Life After a Loss:  Using Your Imagination
Category: Guest Blog
Author Name: Maggie Terry
Views: 3271

Dealing with the loss of a loved one is devastating. You don't have to do it alone. Hospice of Washington County (now with an office in Boonsboro, MD) offers free grief counseling services.

An elderly woman seated in a wheel chair was being interviewed by a psychiatrist.

She told him she was dead because she had lost her heart. He told her to place her hand on her breast to feel it beating. It must still be there if she could feel it beat.

“That,” she said, “is not my real heart.” There was nothing more to be said.

--- from The Force of Character by James Hillman

How powerful a scene the author relates to his readers. It describes so well the struggle grievers have. Loss has been described as “my heart is broken,” or “a piece of my heart is gone.” In the case of a child’s death, I remember a grieving mother saying simply, “My heart has been torn from me.” All are describing a loss so devastating…. How do you, who are grieving a loss, move forward? Is there a path to take, a solution? Can the pieces be put back together? What does it look like to be “doing better?”

Truly there are no easy answers to these questions. The way forward is as individual as the loss. The pieces of your life will be put back together - but just not in the same way.

Let your imagination move you forward. Imagine what “moving forward” looks like in your future. Here are some ways that grievers just like you have gone forward then found themselves beginning to heal.

  • Have something to do each day, placing “one foot in front of the other.”
  • Acknowledge that your future will have sorrow and joy in it, maintaining your faith that there will be some joy again.
  • Do the forgiveness work: talk to a trusted friend, family, pastor, counselor about the guilt. Having all those “what-ifs” and blaming yourself for circumstances beyond your control is very common. An objective person can help you see situations more clearly.
  • Be open to opportunities to redefine yourself. Nourish new friendships, new interests. Imagine ways you can help others or express your creative side.
  • Rediscover the things you used to love to do.
  • There is no need to force yourself through activities that you used to do with your loved one, especially if it only brings misery. Instead, start new activities in new settings. One of these just may be a window to your new self, the one you imagine.
  • Attend a bereavement support group. Sharing with others who understand can be very comforting. 

There are multiple ways to remember your loved one and remain connected to them in your heart. But for today, recognize that the world you once shared with your loved one is changing, and your actions in it will change too. Actions that start with what you imagine in your new life.

Peace and hope for new beginnings, Maggie

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