How many times have you been deeply hurt by a loved one (family, close friend, partner or spouse)?
Or perhaps you’ve lost a loved one to illness or an unexpected incident and can’t seem to get past that initial deep grieving stage and find yourself wanting to burrow under your covers in your bed and cry yourself to sleep and sleep for days to avoid the pain? Maybe you’ve had your heart broken by a failed relationship? Regardless of the WHY in which you are grieving and the people around you who will try to put a time frame on the amount of time you grieve, only YOU can determine when you’re ready to move from the initial stages of denial, anger, maybe bargaining (if the person is still alive but in critical condition). We tend to try to bargain with God or the universe to spare their life or to not have a relationship be over and you will do A, B and C (maybe it’s start praying more or attending church or give up a bad habit, etc.). Then depression sets in before we finally get to the acceptance stage. Grief affects everyone differently. Not everyone goes through all five stages, or they may not go through them in any specific order and often times people get ‘stuck’ at a stage and are lost as to how they can move on from it. Look, I am not here to tell you ‘Just get over it already because it’s been (however many months or years)” because, well, first of all that’s just being a completely a**hole with no empathy or compassion and understanding and that’s just now who I am or what I’m about. Even if someone has never lost a loved one and can’t relate to you on a personal experience level, but they can, and should, be able to relate to you on a humane, empathetic level of compassion for your loss and heartache and a basic understanding of ‘wow, they just lost someone they love’. You may be surprised to find out there are people who simply do not know HOW to handle grief or deep emotions and they end up coming across as cold, unsympathetic and harsh. Try to give them the benefit of the doubt as we don’t always know someone else’s back story. Having said that, for the sake of this blog, I’m going to speak directly to those who have been going through their grieving for a few months, at least, maybe longer. The one thing that no one else can do, or has the right to try to do, is tell you when it is ‘time to get over it and move on’. Only you can decide when you are ready to do that. I can’t tell you how many times I would be told that by people in my family and some friends. Family is, sometimes, the worst source of support. Not all families, but a lot of times they mean well but can be overly pushy or exasperated with you because they think you shouldn’t have allowed yourself to be in that position, or you should toughen up and suck it up. If I could count to you how many times someone who had ‘good intentions’ was completely UNsympathic and UNsupportive or just a flat-out jerk to me I would be counting the hairs on my head because I don’t have enough fingers and toes. So, if you have people in your life doing that to you, believe me I GET IT and NO you do not owe them an explanation for your emotions or the time you’ve been immersed in them. Never feel you have to be like someone else. You are uniquely you for a reason and only YOU have to live with your emotions.
Now, let me preface my statement of ‘moving on’. I do not mean you will never experience hurt or get emotional as the months and years pass whenever you think of them. Moving on with your life is not equivalent to you forgetting them and /or never thinking of them again. No no no, absolutely not would I ever say such a thing to someone nor insinuate it.
Let me focus first on the subject of grief over the loss of a loved one. I’ve learned from my own personal experiences of losing a loved one and by helping many others over the years, that one of the best ways to move on and not feel like you’ve abandoned them in memory or spirit is to, in fact, keep their memory and spirit alive. Talk about them, laugh about memories, share wisdom they taught you, even shed a few tears in remembrance. You are not abandoning them by accepting their loss and making the choice to keep moving forward in your own life. Let me say that again and I want you to say it out loud to yourself: YOU ARE NOT ABANDONING THEM BY ACCEPTING THEIR LOSS AND MAKING THE CHOICE TO KEEP MOVING FORWARD IN OUR OWN LIFE. One of the constants in life despite how deeply we may wish it to be otherwise is that LIFE will always continue. Always. Time literally does not stand still, no matter what happens in our own lives or around the world. The key word however is ‘choice’. YOU must make a personal CHOICE to move yourself out of the depression and start taking the steps to get on with your own life. You are not betraying them in any way. You deserve to be happy again, to be active and productive again, to get back into doing those things that you love to do; maybe in time doing some things you loved to do with them. Baby steps though, alright. Not one of our loved ones would ever want us to GIVE UP ON OUR OWN LIFE. You may be stuck at this point and wondering just HOW do you do that? The first step is to make that choice, that decision to start moving on and that is the hardest step to take because that often times is followed by feelings of guilt that you are forgetting about them. Quite the opposite, is actually true. You see, by moving on with your life, by making yourself happy again, rediscovering love again (maybe?), and just everyday living for yourself, you are also keeping their spirit alive within you. I will share something with you about how I personally feel about funerals…I hate them. Bleh!! Absolutely do NOT like them. And it’s not because I can’t stand the thought of the loss of life or, for some cultures, to have to force myself to walk up to an open casket and stare down at that face that never looks like they’re really sleeping peacefully, at least not to me (it never fails to creep me out and give me nightmares). It’s not about that. It is because I never want MY last memory of seeing that person to be of them dead, in a casket. I want to remember them full of life, their laughter, their corny or raunchy jokes, them living life as only they could do for themselves. Today, many people choose to have a celebration of life instead of a funeral. They encourage not wearing somber black or monochrome clothes and request attendees to dress as if going to a party and well, many DO actually have a party to celebrate the ‘life’ of their deceased loved one. You see, that is what I’ve always been about even waaaay back when I was younger; much to my own family’s dismay and other people’s shock. Oooh my goodness let me tell you how much my suggestion to have a celebration of LIFE was frowned upon by a lot of people and as you can imagine, I was definitely not a popular person. But that’s alright because it was how I dealt with it and over time (years actually) I noticed other people were doing the same thing. Strangers I would read about or hear about and I thought YES! CELEBRATE THEIR LIFE! FINALLY, SOMEONE ELSE GETS IT!
True story here: I am the only girl with four brothers and the second eldest. One of my younger brothers who is still alive today has stated very emphatically that he does not want anyone to mourn his passing whenever that day comes. Instead, he has stated, several times over the years, the he wants everyone to gather around his grave site, light up a blunt, have a shot of his favorite drink, pour some on his grave and then share as many stories as we can remember of his life; to have a PARTY in his name. He is emphatic that no one should mourn his passing, instead he wants us to celebrate his life HIS WAY (and so we shall….one day). He was born with a heart defect, had multiple bypass surgeries before he was a teenager, has pins in his chest holding his rib cage apart so his ribs won’t crush his heart and has lived with it his entire life. He wasn’t expected to live past one year, then it was he would never make it to his teens and now he is still being a huge pain in our behinds (I say that lovingly, of course) because he is now in his 40s. Not only has he far outlived the years his doctors initially predicted but he has also gone on to achieve his life’s dreams of traveling to other countries and recently, he achieved his ultimate life’s dream of seeing the pyramids of Egypt. In his words, “I have fulfilled MY life dreams so anything else after this is all gravy in my life. Most people never get to achieve their dreams so for me? I am at peace.” I was so humbled, and emotional, when he said that and he’s right, most people don’t ever get to accomplish their dreams or even get outside of their state, let alone their country to see other parts of the world. By talking about their experiences, the lessons they taught us, what they did to help others; sharing memories and stories, by laughing in their name and doing some of their favorite things on the day of their passing we keep their spirit alive. Hopefully, if you can find it within you to do that, then you can also find it within you to start taking those baby steps to get back to living your life. Because the bottom line is this: the only one who can make you happy is YOU, first and foremost Others may help you along the way but it always begins within you. Part of your healing is learning to be happy again.
Now, let’s talk about if you’re suffering from a broken heart due to a failed relationship. Oooooh now that is something everyone has experienced at least once! Me personally, I’ve had what some would call ‘more than my fair share’ of them. I have been through just about every bad, abusive, failed relationship you can think of. They can make a movie about my life…. several movies, in fact. I say that without any bitterness and a healthy amount of self-directed sarcasm and humor. There was a time when I swore if you looked up ‘failed relationship or broken heart’ in the dictionary you surely would see my face next to the description! All joking aside though, let me share with you what I have personally learned from all of my relationship mistakes, of which some have been epic. First of all, you have to learn to forgive two people. One person is your ex and the other person is yourself. Now hold on, before you throw your hands out with your eyebrows raised talking to the screen saying “What?!?! Are you crazy Rockie….no effen way!” let me explain what I mean and why. Forgiveness is NEVER about or for them; it is 100% all about YOU BOO!! Yes, you. That person may never be sorry nor care about the pain they caused you. You will only waste your life waiting for an apology that may never come. You are too good of a person to waste your life or block your future blessings of happiness and real love by holding onto the past, to anger and bitterness or vowing to be done with anymore men or women. More importantly, you were not put here to live a life of misery and suffering. If you want to be able to let go and move on without any lingering bitterness taking root within you, you MUST learn to forgive them for your peace of mind and future happiness. Let me repeat that in all caps for you: YOU MUST LEARN TO FORGIVE THEM FOR YOUR PEACE OF MIND AND FUTURE HAPPINESS. Is it easy? Well, that depends upon you and how deeply you cared for that person and how much emotional (and mental) damage they caused you but generally, no it is not easy… but it is doable. Some people have a remarkable capacity to simply flip an internal switch and POOF! it’s as if they are unaffected in any way. Don’t be fooled; they are affected, they’ve just learned how to internalize and hide it. Or as psychologists love to say “self-denial”. That only causes long term suffering for you later on down the road and prevents you from really letting go and moving on to be happy again and find real love (one day, when you’re ready). So, you have to learn to accept it’s over, regardless if you wanted it or not, it IS over and you have to come to terms of accepting this. Next step is taking the lessons you can from it. Don’t start throwing things and yelling at me through the screen now, just bear with me. I am not crazy, I promise you. In every single failed relationship, regardless if the majority of the wrong was done by the other person, we still must accept some responsibility, even if it just about the length of time we let it go on while we made excuses for their mistreatment, disrespect or abuse, or you ignored the red flags because OMG they’re just sooooo HOT or funny, or maybe you thought you deserved what they were doing to you, or whatever other reason you did it…..you ignored red flags. Or you ignored your own gut instinct. Every human being has that sixth sense aka gut instinct. We don’t all learn to listen to it or we do know how but we selectively choose to listen to it (like kids with selective hearing with their parents). That is the part you have to accept responsibility for and I will attest to the fact that it is a very big, rough, nasty pill to swallow. But it is crucial in your own self-healing and future happiness. And that is also the part that you must learn to forgive yourself about as well. Because no matter how much they hurt you, there is always some part of us, even if it’s deeply buried inside where we have not yet acknowledged it yet, we feel like we should have known better, done different or more, been smarter, etc. Give yourself a break already. Forgive them so you release any hold all of that negativity has on you and then forgive yourself so you can go on to live an emotionally and spiritually healthy life. You deserve to be happy and you deserve to find someone who is a perfect match for you who will love and cherish you even more than you ever realized you could have. But you will NEVER have that until (not unless but UNTIL) you learn to forgive.
Once you’ve achieved happiness and internal peace in your life again, you are also able to recognize and understand similar signs in others who are struggling with grief and heartache. You can share your wisdom from lessons learned with others and help them learn how to move on also. In learning to heal ourselves and make ourselves happy, we develop the empathetic gift of helping others to heal. This only comes from personal experience but is an invaluable and wonderful gift. I strongly believe we give power to our gifts best when we share them with others. In sharing love, kindness, compassion and time with others we bestow gifts upon them and those actions have a universal ripple effect upon everyone and everything around them and us. I hope this helps you to take that next step in regaining healing and happiness in your own life. May your life be blessed beyond measure.
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