by Jack Cain
Ten steps that form the basis for
finding a path out of grief
#9 Do Unto Others
Reach out and help someone else who’s in need. Giving of yourself, helping others who are somehow in pain, getting beyond the “me” orientation will help you enormously.
#8 Crowd Out Negatives
You are devloping a habit that is so full of “now” that it crowds out the negative past and the feared future. There is less and less room for the thoughts that bring you down.
#7 Start Practicing Now
Begin by living in the now for two minutes at a time, then five minutes, then ten, then twenty, then thirty. Be aware of the positive around you, notice and nurture your resilience and your interests, a little bit at a time. After awhile, you will see yourself doing this in all of your daily life.
#6 Examine the Present
The present is our target, our goal. Even though there are difficulties in life, there are also good things in spite of misfortunes. Try to be mindful of what is going on in your life that’s pleasant or meaningful. If you choose to, you can be an inspiration to yourself. If that sounds strange, look at it this way: each time you get knocked down and get up again you have proven to yourself how resilient you can be. Neither a rubber band nor a zipper can function without opposing tension. A rubber band can hold nothing together unless it is stretched outside its “comfort zone.” You have been stretched to your limit, and you have survived. Living in the present also means becoming aware of your talents and interests. You have the opportunity to reinvent yourself and find a place for yourself in your changed world.
#5 Examine the Future
None of us knows for certain what the future holds. Too often, we fear it because terrible things have happened to us in the past. But our minds exaggerate the negative and underestimate our ability to cope. Good things can happen to us if we look for them. And we need to remember that too much focus can keep us from enjoying what the present has to offer right now.
#4 Examine the Past
Ask yourself if you have had enough pain, or do you need to stay where you are for a little while longer? Come to see the past as a place you can visit when you choose to, but you don’t have to live there.
A few months after the loss, you might notice that invitations and phone calls have dried up. This is natural. Others don’t know what to say to you. They don’t know which subjects are too sensitive and simply off limits. When you are ready, take the initiative and call them. Say that you notice they don’t call anymore and tell them that you realize they don’t know what to say. Tell them you wouldn’t know either if you were in their shoes.
#2 Time to Move On
Eventually, when you come to the conclusion that you have suffered enough, you will decide it’s time to move on with your life. Recognize that your grief has gone on for however long feels right to you, and you’ll realize it’s okay to lessen the hurting as much as you can and move on. You’ll know when it’s the right time when the distance between the waves grows shorter.
#1 Let Grief Happen
Unlike fog, grief doesn’t arrive on little cat feet. Instead, it arrives in towering waves that engulf and own you all at once. Learn to ride the wave when it comes, because like all waves, it will come and go; it is not a constant state. It comes, washes over you, then subsides for a while. Seek out others for connections and comfort. Set priorities. Focus your available energy on those things that are most essential to you. Give yourself permission to have moments of happiness. Forgive yourself for being swamped by these waves. Only then, when you have allowed the grief to happen, will you be able to move on to the next step.
Reprinted with permission from
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