Seasons of grief
So how do we cope with these seasons of grief? I’ve learned that there is no right or wrong way to work through it. Grief is so personal and unique and it’s influenced by our experience and relationships.
As the years have passed, I’ve handled these seasons differently, trying not to get mired in it. Sometimes I’ve keep busy, not just with my work, but with an active social life. Other times travel is a great distraction. I often try to focus on being productive so if I succumb to sadness, at least I feel a sense that I’m moving forward. Often, just living in the present and keeping an eye on the future helps.
But what I have learned over the years is that at some point, no matter how sad, it is essential for me to acknowledge my family members. I think of them on their birthdays, feeling my love for them and the gratitude that they were a part of my life. I light a candle for each of them on the anniversary of their deaths. The candle burns for twenty-four hours and as I move through my day, I glimpse the candle as I pass and it reminds me how their spirit continues to live on within me.
What I’ve found empowering is the knowledge that while I can’t change what has happened to me, I can control how I manage the experience. I can avoid it by burying myself or getting out of town. Or, I can acknowledge it and allow myself to recognize the gifts that were mine, no matter how fleeting. All of us have that power.
Robbie Miller Kaplan is the author of How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss. Now available in three individual volumes: "Illness & Death," "Suicide" and "Miscarriage." Three additional titles are available as e-books: "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn and Newborn Baby" and "Pet Loss." Click here to order.