Suffering, And Then Recovery

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Suffering

Here is where you really begin to feel the loss. This is usually the worst stage bringing a helpless and hopeless feeling. The full realization that you are grieving usually comes with suffering. Admit to yourself and to others, you need help. Suffering is healthy but it won’t feel like it is as family and friends drift back to their lives. They might start to apply their arbitrary time-frame. You might hear, “Well it’s been three months aren’t you feeling better?” Do not adapt their time-frame to your grief.

Your grief is your grief. Anger is also part of suffering. At first, it is difficult to experience your feelings because of the numbness. As the numbness wears off your feelings will be intense. Anger is a sign of protest. It is a normal and predictable emotion during a crisis or after a loss. It’s a way of fighting back when you feel helpless. Expressions of anger against injustices have always been with us. The loss of men and women working in the World Trade Center and the loss of the rescue workers put our country into shock and grief. And people were angry. We may even be angry at those who haven’t had to experience what we’ve been through. It’s unfair. “Why should they be let off the hook when I am in such pain?”

Recovery

There are recognizable guideposts in recovery. Pain turns from a preoccupation about the one who died to anxiety about your own future. In shock your actions are mechanical. In suffering your actions are forced by your own restlessness. In recovery, your actions are motivated by your own free choice. One of the first things you might notice is your ability to make choices. You may be able to balance the important against the unimportant. What bothered you in the past is now a small irritant.

You move from the hollow mind of grief to a human being who still lives. It’s when you force yourself to go to work, to visit friends, or to take a trip. You realize you are needed in your work, wanted by your friends, and travel is a welcome distraction and even pleasurable. Another indicator that you are healing; you are less dependent on friends and family and there is more balance in your life. Action by itself is a healthy release of emotions. Facing your situation spurs you into action sooner. A willingness to search for joy is a good creative first step.

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