Dear Dr. Ted: I have been to many of the local grief groups that Golden Willow Retreat offers in our town and I am grateful. Most of the facilitators will talk about doing the “work” to allow healing to happen.
Dear Dr. Ted: I have been to many of the local grief groups that Golden Willow Retreat offers in our town and I am grateful. Most of the facilitators will talk about doing the “work” to allow healing to happen. I’ve often wondered what this means. I thought being sad was the work. Please talk a little more about what you mean by emotional work? Thanks, Jose
Dear Jose: Emotional healing through grief is purposeful work. Even though grief is a normal and natural healing process, there is actual work that needs to be done. Most of the work is in being aware and conscious of your internal world, processing your feelings rather than avoiding them. Action is needed in dealing with grief. That action may come in the form of reaching out, getting help professionally or through other healthy avenues that help you bridge the past while easing into your present place in life.
Change can be difficult as you physically, mentally and emotionally try to get more comfortable with certain aspects of being in the world and thinking of what to expect next. The hard part of this is that this process can leave you in a place I call, “comfortably miserable” in which you don’t adapt to the present situation and continue with behaviors that may not serve you. This may be in behaviors that cause dis-ease internally as well as ripple out and negatively impact others. It can also be an internal process in which the world around you has changed and your resistance to step into the present situation keeps you confined and defined by the past, unable to truly experience or acknowledge where and what you are today.
Cognitively, you may know that you have a loss, but it does not mean the emotional work has been completed – where you allow everyday living to start to seep into your unconscious and step into the new rhythm of your life.
Work usually requires action. That action may look different for each person, but it allows space for you to ease into your present definition of yourself and your existence. It can be very difficult and scary to step into the present situation, as it usually includes many unknowns such as who may enter your life or what different experiences may enter your personal and professional world. On the other hand, by stepping back into the world, you open up the chance to manifest a higher quality of life, where your loss is the opportunity for you to change. This change can bring you a higher level of serenity and peace within your personal world.
I believe the “work” means acknowledging your loss and finding ways to honor the past while stepping into the present. Your present situation has created the opportunity for you to improve your internal world and those you interact with in your outer world. Stepping into the unknown will have levels of resistance and work, but can give you the opportunity to live more fully in the present moment with a higher level of love for yourself and others as the brain normalizes your new life.
Thank you for the question. I wish you well. Until next week, take care.
Golden Willow Retreat is a nonprofit organization focused on emotional healing and recovery from any type of loss. Direct any questions to Dr. Ted Wiard, EdD, LPCC, CGC, Founder of Golden Willow Retreat at GWR@newmex.com.
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