The world doesn't stop because a crisis happens. Our lives keep going, tasks have to be accomplished, people depend on us, we have to pay our bills, and we have to keep our businesses running.
We each have to find a balance between dealing with our losses and getting the job done. Bottom-line: you have to find your own way to this balance. And when you support others in crisis you help them find their own way.
Some Ways to Create Balance with Grief
Dylan: Let work be a stabilizing force--I had been dealing with life, death, or paralysis for 5 weeks. My approach to getting back to work was to just write. Let the emotion follow. Everyday, writing became a little more "normal" and the extreme crisis lifestyle became less normal. I remembered how much I loved writing.
Ann: Let the people around you know what is happening. "It helps me be honest with the group--I briefly tell them up front of my situation and that I believe we can have a productive time together, but I want them to know where I'm coming from and that this experience is part of the authentic self I'm bringing to them."
Take Care of Yourself.
Adelaide: Cry when you need to. Laugh when you feel like it. Share out loud what you need to share. Pray unceasingly.
Jimmie: When Joe was diagnosed with cancer, I would try to get up early, get some exercise, not talk about it at work and find close friends who had shared similar situations to get me through the uncertainty.
Be prepared to deal with Grief Bursts.
Waiting at a coffee shop, I sip coffee and the smell of gingerbread fills my senses. My Grandmother's smiling face comes to mind. I feel love from her flood my heart and I hear her giggle. Then, I realize she is gone FOREVER and I begin to cry uncontrollably. What is this experience? A grief burst.
A grief burst is a sudden feeling of being overwhelmed. This sudden jolt of grief comes out of nowhere and strikes deep pain at all levels. The amount of time since the loss isn't a factor--a sound, smell, picture, or a movie can bring on a grief burst.
Avoiding grief is impossible. Grief is a message. It could be telling you to take some action, to do some forgiveness of self or others, to honor the person you have lost, to review what was lost and what was gained, to take time to do some deeper healing, or to simply be with the feelings.
It is important to have an action plan for when a grief burst hits you:
--If the grief burst is the result of the loss of a person, take a moment to call him or her into a visualization to talk with you. Ask how they're doing and say how much you miss and love them. Hug each other. Allow yourself to cry and allow them to soothe you. --Dr. Lynn Joseph
--Do a relaxation and imagery of inner peace and healing light; take a short walk, get out in nature; remind myself I am doing the best I can in this moment; remember special times with my love one who is deceased. --Barbara Dossey, Ph.D., RN, Director, Holistic Nursing Consultants
--This exercise is from Shirley Otis Green, Director Transitions (End of Life & Bereavement), City of Hope, "Getting Back to Work". We all have a pot of grief tears (Legacy of Tears) inside us. It is important to take time to empty the pot and keep it empty.
Outcome: to learn you can grieve and it will not go on forever. You experience emptying of the pot bit by bit in a healthy, supportive way.
Prescription: Give yourself permission to have a BURST. Brainstorm what time is best to do this work. Set up a meeting, lunch, and/or phone call with a friend for when you finish.
Example: Set up 10-11am on a Saturday for your grief time. Select a trigger to focus on: scrap book, a memory, wedding album or video, a scent, a song, etc. Let yourself fully grieve. Stop at the scheduled finish time and meet with your supporter. During transition, the friend accepts you as you are and helps you get back to normal. Now, re-engage life. Use this exercise to desensitize a recent loss that can enable you to keep living your life by lessening the burden weighing on your mind, heart, spirit and gut. Periodically, do this exercise to keep the legacy of tears at a manageable level.
A grief burst shows you still care, that some action may need to be taken, or that you are human and it is time to be with your feelings. Grief work is learning how to find a new "normal" and to move back into living in full color.
Create an Action Plan to Deal w/Your Loss.
My Action Plan to handle the loss of my friend and still conduct my training class:
--Allowed time before class to grieve
--Allowed co-trainer Lynn to help me
--Went to hotel room to gather my thoughts and get ready to be present in the training
--Took contacts out & had tissue available
--Developed a sign with Lynn, which would signal if I could not continue and needed some time to deal with my emotions
--Dealt with my grief bursts
--Announced to the group at the start what was happening and let them support me during the week.
--I thanked them after the workshop
Resources: www.compassionatefriends.org, Healing Your Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas by Alan D.Wolfelt, Ph.D., The Art of Helping by Lauren Briggs, and Writing to Heal the Soul - Transforming Grief and Loss through Writing by Susan Zimmermann.