How do you get over the loss of a loved one?
People may WANT you to get over it. Think of those friends and family members who eye you with pity and discomfort because they are in pain over the pain you are still in.
People may even NEED for you to get over it. Think of your children, or work colleagues who need for you to start showing up for them again.
YOU may even want you to get over it already, because at times the prospect of being in this much pain for any longer is more unbearable than the pain of the loss itself.
And yet with all these motivating factors, and needy people in your inner circle, and a genuine desire on your part to get on with your life, the ability to get over it remains elusive.
Here’s why: you’ve set the wrong goal for yourself, and the people in your life who lovingly want you to get over it, have unknowingly set you up for failure.
THERE IS NO GETTING OVER IT. That’s the bad news. But! There’s good news too.
The goal you want to set for yourself is: BEING WITH IT. Being WITH the pain. Being WITH the loss. The ultimate destination is: Acceptance, but the voyage may be a long, non-linear one. Do not attempt this journey without the following supplies: self-compassion, self-love, patience and self-awareness. The journey will be far less treacherous with them.
I initially had a BOATLOAD of resistance towards “being with,” or surrendering, or accepting my son’s death. It all sounded too much like “giving up,” and I already felt as though I’d given up on my son…through no choice of my own. I was not about to give up ANYthing else. I rejected the labels “being with,” “surrender,” and “acceptance” outright.
Furthermore, I didn’t want to BE WITH my pain, to BE WITH my loss, to BE WITH my grief, to BE WITH my suffering. I wanted to get as far from it all as I possibly could. This impulse is natural. We want to have more of what feels good and less of what feels bad. It’s part of what makes us human, and there is no need to be apologetic about it.
But what we resist…persists.
The more I delayed the pain or distracted myself from it, the more power it had when it reappeared. And it relentlessly reappeared.
The way to deprive my pain of its power was to feel it, to stand at the foot of the stairs with the building crumbling down around me, to find myself beat up and bruised, but still breathing, still standing amongst the ruins with a sense of myself as a Survivor. I slowly, gradually and inevitably became filled with the confidence that I would survive again, COULD survive again.
The goal of getting over it will only break you down over and over because of the utter futility of it. The goal of BEING WITH your loss, your pain, your grief, your messy self, will show you what powerful stuff you are made of, and will build you up from there.
Let go of getting over it. It’s a mirage; something that’s held out to us as a delectable possibility, but with no substance whatsoever.
BEING WITH? That’s the real thing. Go for it.