Focus On Connections Even When Mourning The Death Of A Loved One

Everything that is in heaven, on earth, and under the earth is penetrated with connections, with relatedness. — Hildegard of Bingen

Connecting with people, places, and things of interest is an integral part of joyful living. It is the lack of such connections that often perpetuate isolation and depression. This is obvious when we are not grieving. However, it is especially devastating when we have to face the challenges and transformation to be faced after the death of a loved one.

We are wired for connections. All of us need them as much as we need fresh air. Without connections we wither, live exclusively in the past, and fail to grow from the difficult experience of loss and change.

Examine the depth and number of connections you have. Become aware of how frequently you engage the connections in your life. Planning connections for each day is a powerful coping technique as you deal with the “new life” without the physical presence of the beloved. Increasing the number of connections is a worthy goal that can help immensely in adapting to your great loss.

1. Connect with yourself. You may feel this is a weird suggestion for coping with the death of your loved one. Never forget: coping well is all about the quality of your inner life and doing all you can to strengthen it. Self-knowledge is a critical resource for managing change and accepting your new life.

We are all flawed and have our failures; it’s what we do with that awareness that counts. Learn from others who have been there. Then make the changes your inner wisdom tells you to make. Friends and neighbors can help but only you can be the agent for accepting change. We are never too old to start the process.

2. Connect with others. This is an obvious coping recommendation. However, it takes much time, effort, and commitment to learn to love and build relationships with others. Understanding the power of relationships and a sense of community can be a great motivator for your commitment. We need each other, and most important to understand, is that we are social beings who thrive on loving relationships. Learn all you can about how to communicate as well as become a great listener. You will grow in the process and so will your outlook on life. Look at connection with others as a basic psychological need.

3. Connect with your Higher Power. Over and over again I hear people say how they have relied on their Higher Power to cope with the difficult situations that arise in life. No one is immune from failures or difficult circumstances that demand courage and faith in a power greater than the self. Humility itself is a mighty warrior bringing renewed energy and a willingness to persist. Talk to your Higher Power. Ask for the insight to make the right choices in adapting to change. Try going to church or hanging out with spiritually oriented people. The research is clearly on your side: spirituality makes a major difference on the perspective you have on life.

4. Connect with your purpose or mission. We all have a need to recognize a purpose or mission for why we are here. You have skills and wisdom, sometimes unrecognized or forgotten, that can help others and affect your little corner of the world or people in need. Start by listing your strengths and what you do well. Take your time. Think carefully. You can create a purpose or mission based on past interests or current needs. Consider churches, community organizations or others who are doing things you would like to do. Remember back to when you were a child and the great interests that held your attention. Meditate on the values you hold, what moves you, and create a purpose from your musings.

5. Connect with loving memories. Memories are potent coping tools if you choose the right ones and practice bringing them into view every day. In fact, you can create new memories to add to your storehouse of past experiences. Consider taking the time to write down your great memories as they come to you. Add to your list as the days go by and another moving memory comes into your thoughts. What you choose to think creates your emotional state which then helps you deal with your painful loss. But it all starts with your choice of thoughts.

6. Connect with gratitude. Don’t let gratitude turn you off as a coping technique. Read all you can about it. Regular expression of gratitude will have a major effect on your inner life, how you view the world, and a clear reduction in stress levels. The attitude of gratitude has been proven over and over again to be a powerful coping mechanism; it will bring great meaning into your life and help you adapt. Think of the little things, like the air you breathe, food you eat, or the energy you have, as well as the great friends and opportunities that present themselves.

Review what you have received from your loved one and how it can be passed on to others. Examine what you take for granted and give thanks daily.

7. Connect with a hobby or a special interest. What you do in your spare time is a crucial choice. Often, the choices you make need to be built on new ideas, subjects, and hobbies. Here is a partial listing I give out to all of my grief support groups to give them an idea of the wide variety of connections that can be made: writing, family history, nature, the arts, going to the library, travel, stress release techniques, communication skills, bio intensive gardening, mentoring, golfing or bridge, music, museums, historical events, storytelling, life gratitude memories, organizations, health foods, meditations, your capacity to play. There are many, many more. The world is full of untold amounts of knowledge waiting to be used.

Remember, changing beliefs about compassion for yourself means changing some of the previous choices that have kept you down. True progress in grief work usually requires questioning beliefs.

Your connections can be filled with many thoughts that can positively influence your emotional life and your ability to adapt to change. Consider the following: (1) Examine the number of connections you have presently. (2) How many can be strengthened? (3) What new connections can you add? Or restart? (4) Make a plan to use a certain number of your connections each day.

Being open to new connections is a little used coping technique because it takes commitment and energy and a willingness to be vulnerable. Yet, the benefits far outweigh the effort needed. Think connections at each and every opportunity. Your connections will help you keep loneliness at bay and grow from the transformative grief experience.

Source by Lou LaGrand