MAKING IT BETTER: Grief, Mourning, Memories…and 2017
This is a time for celebration for many, but it will also be a time when many might be in mourning or grieving over some recent or past loss. I lost my beloved brother a week before Christmas four years ago. I can hardly believe it’s been that long. In my mind it was only yesterday!
Grief is an odd and complex emotion. I have written about it on several occasions and I expect I will continue to write about it as it is a natural human experience we will all go through at varying times in our lives It is also an experience that many are not aware can go on for quite some time in our lives, even years after the loved one has passed away.
Sometimes people can be very insensitive and unhelpful to the bereaved, because there is an expectation that there is a time limit for grieving. The truth of the matter is there isn’t! People will process their grief in different ways, depending on the type of relationship they had with person they lost, the quality of support they receive and their own internal strength and capacity to cope with the feelings. Some take much longer than others in their grieving and that’s ok.
Grieving goes in stages and people negotiate those stages differently. Obviously there is also unhealthy grieving and people can sometimes get stuck in some of those stages, but that is something quite different.
I was talking to my brother’s wife not too long ago and she was quite upset that people around her had expected her to have moved on and some found it uncomfortable or even irritated that she was still talking about him so passionately. I felt angry on her behalf because I thought no one had any right to determine for someone else how much or less they should grieve over a loved one. Who do they think she should be talking about? He who feels it knows it. No one knows what one person means to another, let alone a spouse!
I think of the childhood memories I shared with my brother, there is no one else in the whole wide world who can share those particular memories with me now as I have no other living siblings or parents. Those memories have now become even more precious to me as they should be and I guard them jealously. Good memories can be very pleasurable and when you lose someone who shares your memories it can feel like losing the memory itself. The beauty of memories is that it can give back life to those who no longer exist. Our memories are our greatest treasures, without them we would have no stories to tell each other. Memories give our lives meaning. They help us to cope when we lose loved ones, either through death or otherwise. It is also vital never to let yourself become afraid of making new memories.
I was thinking of how I wanted to start the New Year and I was clear I was not making any pointless new year’s resolutions that would be forgotten by the second or third week of January! I thought I would like to do something that I could take forward into the year and possibly make it a way of life. I thought, without sounding morbid, none of us really knows how much time we have here on earth. As the saying goes, ‘tomorrow is promised to no one’, so we really need to live more in the present (which is indeed a gift!). So I came up with the following things that actually mean something to me, are not only about me and are attainable. Do you have some thoughts you can share of how you can make 2017 a better more peaceful place for not only yourself but people around you?
• Offer a kind, genuine word to even one person on my daily travels
• Embrace a colleague(if and when appropriate), an acquaintance (if and when appropriate), once a month
• Help someone less fortunate than myself in cash or kind (no matter how small), once a month
• Learn a new word every week
• Find out as much as I can about the lives of others in other parts of the world once a month
• Challenge my biases, prejudices as often as I can, and try to make amends
• Smile more often
• Call a friend or family member i haven’t spoken to every other month to enquire about their well being
• Offer something of myself in my professional life to improve the welfare of my colleagues
Wishing you, all our wonderful readers, a fantastic, blessed, happy Christmas and a peaceful, gentle entry into 2017. We have truly valued your readership and loyalty and we look forward to learning and sharing with you in the New Year. Stay safe.
Gloria Ogunbadejo writes a weekly column for Punch Newspaper. She is a Psychotherapist, a life coach, a holistic counsellor and an ordained Minister
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