Mourners want grief to end. Some try to rush their mourning, only to find it cannot be rushed. According to The Talmud, "Who forces time is pushed back by time; who yields to time finds time is on his side." The reconciliation process -- making the deceased part of yourself and your life -- is a slow one. It is even slower if you suffered multiple losses.
Colin Murray Parkes writes about time in "All in the End is Harvest." He says, "Death may happen in a moment, but grief takes time; and that time is both an ordeal and a blessing." Grief work is also an ordeal and a blessing. Though you may resist it, you need to do your grief work in order to move forward with life.
Taking your time helps you complete grief work. What is it? The National Cancer Institute defines grief work as the "processes that a mourner needs to complete before resuming daily life." This is lonely work and nobody can do it for you. When you take your time you can complete tasks at your own pace. Your tasks may include journal entries, counseling, support group meetings, creating art work, and memorials.
Taking your time helps you to sort feelings. You may feel a sense of relief if your loved one was in hospice and death was expected. On the other hand, you may be angry at God and ask, "Why did this happen to me?" Kevin Hendry examines feelings in a Forbes Health Foundation article, "Guidelines for Doing Good Grief Work." His advice to mourners: Allow and honor your feelings. "Your healing will be found at the heart of the whole huge unspeakably intense and disorderly jumble of them all."
Taking your time increases self-awareness. Daniel Goleman, PhD, discusses this skill in his book, "Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More Than IQ." According to Goleman, self-awareness is "ongoing attention to one's internal states." This ability does not get carried away by emotions, Goleman says, but is present "even amidst turbulent emotions." This is encouraging news. Despite conflicting emotions, you can still be self-aware and listen to your inner voice.
Taking your time helps you to let go. The Coping Website, a public service of James J. Messina, PhD and Constance M. Messina, PhD, lists tools for doing this. Deciding to let go, the authors explain, "will result in a significant change in your life." You need to release many things: cause of death, relationship with the deceased, memories, feelings, possessions, and more. Letting go of these things will lift your spirits.
Coming to terms with grief takes time, according to "Normal Reactions to Loss: The Mourning Process," an article on the Grief Watch Website. Hard as it is to believe, the day will come when you laugh again and have hope for the future. "You will be different," the article notes, "and a 'healed scar' will be where the rawness once was." It's your grief so take your time to reconcile it and find a new life.
Copyright 2009 by Harriet Hodgson