7 Ways To Move Through Grief: Structure

Article #5 in a series of 7

In the past, I always thought that the saying “life goes on” was trite and not particularly comforting. Yet, inexplicably, while I was moving through grief over the loss of my marriage, as well as the 30-year friendship I’d had with my ex, the Beatles’ song “Life Goes On” kept running through my head. What’s ironic is that my ex-husband never liked the Beatles, and the song tells a happily-ever-after family story. Anyway, it kept playing in my head at the oddest times. I’d be driving or in the shower or walking the dog, and my subconscious would hit play, and I’d be hearing the cheerful, upbeat chorus in my mind…

Ob-la-di, ob-la-da life goes on brah
La la how the life goes on
Ob-la-di, ob-la-da life goes on brah
La la how the life goes on

Last time I spoke about using distractions, which can be very helpful in dealing with the stress of grief.  This time, we’re talking about number 5 on my list – structure – because, frankly, it’s best to use what’s already a given. Life does go on. People are living their lives all around you, and you, too, must continue to go through the motions of breathing, sleeping, eating, and working to keep the lights on.

And whether you care about it or not, having a sense of structure is important for you because here’s what grief does… it jerks you out of life as you have known it and makes you become suddenly very aware of your inner life. That inner world of feelings and thoughts that doesn’t usually resemble the outer world of action and activity. In fact, when you think about your loss and feel the pain of it, the hustle and bustle of day-to-day living might even seem a bit absurd. Confronted with the fact that the loss is irreversible, while also noticing how life goes on all around you without what you’ve lost, you might find yourself wondering why you ever cared about ordinary things like what’s trending on Twitter, the dust that’s accumulated on the furniture for three weeks, or that you need to buy more lipstick.

I believe that’s why grief can so easily cause you to sink into depression and despair. It can happen when you get caught up in your inner life processing your painful feelings and thinking about how you cannot change the situation. And when that happens, what’s going on in your inner life can supersede what’s going on in your outer life. Before you know it, you’ve neglected your outer life, and you’re all out of balance.

It’s important to have structure. It gives you a base from which to navigate the unpredictable terrain of grief feelings.

Instead of a series of stages, we might also think of the grieving process as a roller coaster, full of ups and downs, highs and lows. Like many roller coasters, the ride tends to be rougher in the beginning, the lows may be deeper and longer. The difficult periods should become less intense and shorter as time goes by, but it takes time to work through a loss. Even years after a loss, especially at special events such as a family wedding or the birth of a child, we may still experience a strong sense of grief.

Source: Hospice Foundation of America

Keeping up old routines or establishing new routines evens out the stress of the ups and downs of the emotions.  For me, having routines helped me stay on a more even keel.  I have a dog to take care of, and he needs to be fed and let out at certain times. That sense of time and structure was a salvation because it snapped me out of my head and made me think, “The dog needs me. He relies on me, and I need to be structured for him.”

So, even if you don’t feel it, it’s a good idea to go through the paces and keep up routines. Eventually your world will right itself somewhat, and you’ll be glad that you paid attention to eating healthy, minding the budget, and maintaining your personal grooming.  And, of course, if this applies to you like it does to me… your dog will appreciate it, too!

Next up – Future Focus
We’ll look at how having faith that you will feel differently than you do now (and even making plans that count on that fact) helps you to move through grief.

Click HERE to read part six, 7 Ways To Move Through Grief: Future Focus
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Angela Loëb is into self-development… learning it, teaching it, and supporting others who do too.
More at http://angelaloeb.com
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