As you grieve for a family member, dear friend, or beloved pet, you experience a variety of emotions. These emotions can lead you to acceptance. Like grief, acceptance involves a variety of emotions. In the early stages of grief you may feel like you’ll never come to terms with the finality of death.
In 2007, after my daughter, father-in-law, brother, and former son-in-law died within nine months, acceptance wasn’t even on my horizon. My grief kept bouncing around, due to the number of losses. Sometimes I moved forward on the recovery path and other times I moved backward. It was all very confusing.
According to “How to Accept the Death of Loved One,” an article on the Live Strong website, you haven’t recovered from loss until you’ve achieved acceptance. The article describes the four stages of acceptance: learning about grief, embracing fears and tears, keeping memories alive, and finding support.
I experienced these stages and one more — dealing with painful memories. All of us have things in our lives we would like to forget, yet these memories always seem to linger. An article in “The British Journal of Psychiatry” says grief and acceptance are related. The article, “Grief and Acceptance as Opposite Sides of the Same Coin” by Holly G. Prigerson, PhD and Paul K. Maciejewski, PhD, explains that grief has states, not stages.
At its core, grief is a state of emotional unrest, frustration, and yearning, the authors note. In contrast, acceptance “may represent emotional equanimity — a sense of inner peace and tranquility that comes with the letting go of a struggle… ” After lots of tears and grief work and learning, I accepted my multiple losses. How did I get to acceptance?
First, I believed in myself. I kept telling myself, “I am worthy of happiness.” Recently I made this point in a talk I was giving. After my talk an audience member approached me and said, “When you used the word ‘worthy’ chills came over my body and I realized I was worthy too.”
Second, I sought out solitude. Every day, I sat quietly and thought about my life. I meditated before I started writing. I meditated after I wrote an article or paragraphs of a book. I meditated as I planned workshops and talks.
Third, I turned to my occupation — freelance writing — for comfort. You can do this and don’t have to be a professional writer to do it. Write about your feelings on the computer, in a journal, or spiral notebook. When you write about your feelings and thoughts you are releasing them. If you write regularly, you will eventually find solutions to your problems.
Acceptance may seem far away, but you will get there. Remind yourself that you are worthy of happiness. Build quiet times into your day, times when you hear your self-talk and connect with your soul. Put your thoughts in writing. Alone, each step seems small. Together, these steps can lead you to acceptance.
Bob Deits, author of Life After Loss, thinks the acknowledgment of loss is the most important recovery step we can take. “It is at this point that you will again take full charge of your life and full responsibility for your feelings,” he writes. Acceptance is more than power; it brings you a sense of peace. Acceptance is close by and you will get there.
Copyright 2013 by Harriet Hodgson