Recovering from Grief

I’ve always loved my brother, and sometimes his bluntness makes me love him all the more.  Yesterday at breakfast, he professed that never in a million years could he ever be married to me.   In all honesty I wasn’t the least bit offended and found that to be a rather reassuring comment, whereas the opposite might make me a bit uncomfortable.

Since Stefanie’s death, I have been inspired by the idea of helping others move from heartbreak to happiness, be it after a death, divorce, job loss etc…, and am working towards my certification in life/grief coaching and devouring all the course materials and recommended readings.

Almost comically, based on a few books that I have now read, I have discovered that I have done everything wrong in grieving from day one and should, by now, be suicidal.

I will refrain from giving my opinion on most experts, especially those who haven’t “walked the walk”, be it parenting (especially) or any other topic.  Suffice to say, as far as grief goes, we all have to find our way to move forward from despair to hopefulness.

Among my many fatal mistakes has been keeping busy, being strong for others and allowing myself short term rewards—this according to two very well-respected authorities in the “grief” world.

Short term rewards for me included bribing myself to get up in the morning with anything that would work, but generally a great cup of coffee and chocolate were in the mix.  I had other goals with which I rewarded myself such as an afternoon without the kids and a trip to the spa, or a good book, dinner out with James or a few glasses of wine with my friends.  I might have done these things regardless, but it felt good to make them a reward – and for me, that worked.

Being strong for others wasn’t something I could just opt out of because I felt like it.  At the time we had 3 other children who needed me to be present.  It was very important for them to see all of us grieve in a healthy open way but at no point could I just “check out” and stop being strong for them when they needed me.

…And now the gravest of all errors—keeping busy. Here’s where my brother would whole-heartedly agree with the experts and what he was referring to when denying me his hand in marriage.

Granted, to an outsider it might (okay, maybe a bit more than “might”) seem a bit excessive.  This blog, a full time job, two businesses, going back to school, writing a book (or two), renovating the basement, and of course, the 5 kids could, to some, seem a bit overwhelming.

(It truly is amazing all the things we can accomplish when we are focused and organized.  I would never have thought it possible.)

But, what rings most true for me through all the reading is that, as with most things in life, grief is one more thing we have to work on and through and time alone isn’t enough.  Each of us has to find our way to get through our grief and if it’s working and isn’t harming ourselves or others, then that’s all that matters.

So as I head to my brother’s house today (which I’ve sandwiched happily between hockey and an eye appointment for Elena), I’ll have a few minutes to sit and chat with him and perhaps be bluntly faced with another revelation.

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