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Throughout our lives we are faced with loss. Loss of a job, loss of a girl or boyfriend when we were younger, a friend moving away, divorce, a pet, our hearing or memory, our health, a home or a business. Out of all these losses, death is probabhly the most significant loss that we face.
All these losses cause significant changes in our lives. Our belief systems, our hopes, our faith, and our dreams can be crushed and tested during any of these situations.
THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG WAY TO GRIEVE
Most of us believe that grieving is done after a loss. In most cases it is true. However, as caregivers, many, if not all, begin grieving the inevitable loss of their loved one from the onset of the role we are challenged with.
And many times, we may be grieving as caregivers and not even be in touch with it or aware of it. While the grieving process after the loss of a loved one has certain recognizable feelings, I believe grieving weaves itself through us during the caregiving process in just as many ways.
Each of us deals with these feelings at our own pace at the right time, for the right reasons. However, some of us may also be into denial and we land up letting all these emotions block up inside of us. These blockages affect our immune system, our mental and emotional states and much more. Please remember, that any unresolved losses from the past are stored deep inside you..They fester into illnesses and diseases as well.
By releasing these emotions and feelings through your writing, it becomes easier to cope with the caregiving process. It actually strengthens you because once the emotions and grief are acknowledged, you no longer let them build to a point where you are out of control. It frees you to make good decisions for yourselves as well as your loved ones. It frees you so that your bodies and breathing are more relaxed. This gives you an opportunity to be more authentic...more whole.....more peaceful.....more accepting and perhaps even more optimistic and joyful.
So, close your eyes for a few minutes and let go of all your worries, your fears, the doubts, the concerns, and just breathe in loving thoughts on each inhale. On the exhale, breathe out all the negative thoughts so that they may dissolve into the universe, freeing you up deep from within.
When you are feeling a sense of calm or peace, and your mind is no longer wandering away from you or distracting you, with idle chit-chat, begin writing about all the different major losses that you have experienced in your life right up until this very moment. See if you can recall the different ages of your life in which these losses occurred. Notice that some of the pain and sadness you might be experiencing at this time might also be related to some of the pain and sadness which occurred earlier in your life, which you may not have resolved.
As you write, notice what your first loss is and how old you were. Was there a time when two or more losses occured simultaneously. Continue to write about the decisions you made as well as the changes you may have incorporated into your life. How did they affect you?
Now consider writing about how the role of caregiving your loved one has affected you emotionally.
How have you reacted?
Where do you feel stuck?
What choices do you have?
What resources do you have?
How does your loved one feel?
How is your loved one responding to their current situation?
How are other family members and relatives reponding to the situation?
When you are finished writing...ponder on this thought. Grief is just another change; a transition in life that we all go through. Remember when you were nervous about going to a new school, meeting new friends, the nervousness you felt.....and you adjusted.
Remember when you were fired from a job or quit..without a new job in site. Something new and better came along.....
Remember that given the time, you adjusted, healed and in most cases grew from these experiences.
Caregiving is a wonderful opportunity to grieve, forgive, heal, grow and open to the power of love.......to make each given moment of the process as special as it can be for both you and your loved one.
IF LIFE IS A JOURNEY, SO IS CAREGIVING
Blessings to you.
© 1/14/99 Gail R. Mitchell