Just the other day I came across an old friend of mine who expressed to me how she hadn’t slept in days. This was unusual for her. I found out that she was going through a time where she could not remember all the ways she missed her husband. For the first time, issues from their past and early marriage began to haunt her. She found herself waking up angry, sad, and anxious. It became difficult to keep these thoughts only in her sleep and thus the memories of her dreams would confront her multiple times during her daytime hours. Her husband had died nearly 5 years ago.
What a difficult situation. This can happen to any one of us with little or no warning. What do we do? These powerful emotions can brings us back to the beginning of our grief journey.
Embracing the pain of loss is something that none of us wants to do but helps us to reconcile our grief. The work can be done at any time after a loss but it does not mean that once done once, it is done forever. My friend’s dreams for example, are just another instance where it shows that it may be time to embrace some pain we may not have already addressed.
How do we embrace this pain? Allow your feelings to come to you freely. You cannot help what or who you dream about, just as you can’t help when these feelings creep into your waking life. Make a plan to address your thoughts and emotions. Perhaps you will write them down and look at them later, maybe you will take some time alone to weep or be angry. Reach out for support to a trusted person with whom you can share your feelings. It is understandable that what you are thinking about can feel so personal that you find it difficult to talk with others. This is where a good counselor could come in handy.
As you confront these fresh feelings, it’s important to remember that we can reconcile our feelings and let go of decisions we might have changed. We cannot change our past but only look forward to the future with the decisions we can make now.