“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.”
– Arthur Conan Doyle
Adapting to the changed conditions of life after the death of a loved one is clearly a long-term journey. The process involves belief in oneself to grow, change, and become resilient. Also, this transition involves becoming aware of the fact that little things mean a lot to the acceptance of a different way of life without the beloved. Therefore, gaining new knowledge about loss and change is critical in coping well.
All of the above is not merely time consuming but frequently becomes a series of stressful events as we try to let go of our more familiar life. Here are five little actions you can take daily to help in the transition to accept the unfamiliar life that has to become your new normal.
1. Reduce your television watching. Many of the news programs as well as entertainment shows feature negative programming. A common fact of television news life is: “if it bleeds, it leads.” Broadcasting thrives on bad news. Spending any time watching the sadness of others, whether real or fictional, will only add to the normal sadness you are already feeling or trigger a “grief attack.”. Find a substitute for the television set. Play soothing music from one of the music channels or choose only to watch programs that will not add to your stress index.
2. Intentionally do something different. For example, start your day off on a positive note. Read a favorite poem, an inspirational line from a book of quotes or a special prayer. Turn it into a habit over time. New actions and resulting routines are integral parts of establishing a framework for adapting to the absence of our loved ones. After one week, add another new routine in the afternoon. It could be a visit to a favorite place, going to a mall where you can walk, helping an older person, or writing a few lines in a diary. Keep working on creating the new circumstances of your life as you want them to unfold.
3. Evaluate what you talk about whether to yourself or when with friends or acquaintances. The words we speak silently or out loud have tremendous power to heal or to prolong unnecessary suffering. Ask yourself if you are talking from a victim point of view or a determined and restorative point of view. Learn how to tell your story honestly, sincerely, and with great care. We all need to tell our stories of how the death of our loved one has occurred and affected us. It is part of our journey through grief.
4. Reprogram your unconscious mind to help you adapt with the tasks of mourning. This is not difficult work because the unconscious does not judge and is always open to suggestion. It simply carries out the assignments you give it. In fact, the way you are responding right now is part of the information stored in the unconscious through the years. Program your unconscious mind with what you want. Imagine how you wish to adapt to the changes you face. See yourself making those changes. Then reinforce your unconscious with concepts like, “I am strong; I am capable; I am determined; I am vitalized by love, I am worthy.”
5. Keep a pen and small notebook with you to periodically list the good things that happen during any given day. We tend to overlook or forget the good things that happen as we focus on our great loss. However, they tell us we are not alone. Our Higher Power, through our friends, relatives, coworkers, and certain so-called coincidences, is always there even when we think we are all alone. Each week find a time to sit quietly and read through the notes on the good things that have happened. This will help you balance the constant thoughts of the difficulty of making life transitions. We need balance in a world that seems lacking in understanding about what we are going through.
Remember it is critical that you take action; life rewards action. Adaptation demands it. You don’t have to take giant steps. Little ones will make a big difference. Simply embrace patience, express your hurt, and you will overcome. Coping well becomes an ongoing daily routine with occasional blips, the so-called bad days. They will come. Let them go gently, don’t let them alarm you, and realize they are a very normal part of the grief process. Return to your task of adapting to life without the physical presence of your loved one.