The mental fog that had sheltered me emotionally during those first four months after my husband’s death is slowly, and painfully, beginning to clear. Coincidentally, this occurs just as the world around me appears to need me to get out and on with my life. And so, I’m finding that this is an important time in my mourning because with my new found awareness comes the need to take a stand, to “own” my grieving process. Sounds like I’m getting stronger? Yes, in some ways, but the reality is that sadness, crying and feeling lost are still very much a part of my day-to-day world.

Two weeks shy of the fifth-month anniversary of my husband’s death, I can say, without the slightest hesitation or hint of exaggeration that grieving sucks. Ugly word? Yes. Ugly feeling? Absolutely! Grieving is neither gentle nor quiet; it is bottomless loneliness, anger and depression, until finally, a year or two down the road, I will be at peace with my loss — or so the experts say.

But for now, there’s no way around my grief; I can’t hide from it (for long anyway) or run away from it — it follows me wherever I go, no matter how fast I’m travelin’. I’m reminded, painfully once again, that losing a spouse is different from any other loss.

When my husband died after a prolonged illness, I thought I was prepared for his death. And I was – intellectually. What I now know is that we can prepare our intellect, but when death happens, emotionally, it still feels as if you are slamming into a brick wall. The rhythms of life continue around me unaltered, but I feel as if the universe is out of kilter, even on my best days.

Feeling so raw, what did I do to try to take care of myself at a time when I felt incapable of dealing with anything? Thankfully support was available in a variety of forms. All it took was my willingness to take life baby step-by baby-step and work hard to keep an open heart and mind. The following steps I found to be helpful.

Bereavement Support Group

Profound grief was, for me, deeply isolating, because although family and friends wanted to help, it was impossible for them to relate to what I was going through. Instead, I joined a bereavement support group run by professional counselors, which made the experience more manageable. It gave the process structure and me a place where each week, no matter what else was going on in my life, my grieving was encouraged. I joined a support group — even though the thought of being with strangers was, at that time, the last thing I felt capable of doing. No matter what other challenges I was dealing with, this was a place for me to fully know my sorrow. By its very structure, a bereavement group offers a sort of marker, one that allows you to appreciate your own ups and downs, as well as your progress. Sure, you’ll cry in front of people you don’t know, but they’ll cry as well. And eventually, you’ll cry less and laugh more as you cherish the emotional safety this group provides. You’ll also feel good about helping other group members, which in turn helps you to begin to feel powerful and whole again.

You might feel afraid that it’s like going to therapy, something that might be especially scary when you’re so vulnerable. Be assured that while a licensed bereavement therapist moderates the group, this is a “support” process group that deals with the here and now, it is not a therapy group that delves into your childhood in order to resolve old issues.

At this point in my mourning, these have been my most important discoveries:

By yanam49

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