On Mourning the Loss of A Loved One; When Tragedy Interrupts Your Life (Revised)

“How could everyone go on as if nothing was different? Didn’t they know?”

“. . . . .the speaking subject who has entered – or rather fallen – into the order of signification, has crossed over a bar that separates him or her from the benevolence as well as the tyranny of nature and the imaginary relations of myth. She or he is marooned in a world of ruins, fragments, stranded objects that thereby take on a textual aspect: they demand to be read.. . . . . .this fall is, however, also seen as the promise of knowledge and, as postmodern critics would have it, of the play of écriture.“ ~Stranded Objects: Mourning, Memory and Film in Postwar Germany.

Écriture is a French word simply meaning writing, or more concisely, literature. As applied here, it means a subject who falls into mourning, the mourning of a life that has now become part of history in which one will feel suspended in time with the loss of object until there is a “working through” of the loss. Literature, of course, is one way of preserving the past for nostalgic reasons; honor, respect, and remembrances. If you have lost a love one tragically, or even if it was expected, dealing with loss is never an easy thing to do. It takes time and requires a working through of the grief experienced and depends a lot on our resilience to weather the hardship.

Resilience is the capacity to endure pain. Resilience isn’t something that is fixed. How can one become more resilient? Grief and mourning, inevitably, will need to run its course. But your beliefs and actions shape how quickly you move through the void and, ultimately, where you will end up.

Stop blaming yourself. Studies show that people recover more quickly from grief when they stop blaming themselves for their hardships. Learn to stop apologizing for something you had no control over. Veto any phrase that is an attempt to place blame on yourself. Blaming yourself will delay your recovery from the loss and too, that means also, it will delay growth and development in other areas of your life.

Question your own expectations. Studies in “affective forecasting” which is our ability to predict how we’ll feel in the future reveals that we often overestimate how long negative events will affect us. If a voice inside your head keeps telling you things won’t get better, you need to interrupt that voice and tell yourself things WILL and DO get better. Replace negative words like “I’m sorry” and “ I always feel this awful” with gratitudes for the living, “Thank you” and “I sometimes feel this awful.”

Try cognitive behavioral therapy. Write down a belief that causes you anguish and then disapprove it. Write down, “I’ll never feel happy again.” Then, prove it wrong. Think about how that phrase simply isn’t true and prove it with a factful truth. Of course “I will feel happy again! I feel happy every time I smell the scent of the ocean. I will visit the beach again someday.” Or, “Just this morning my friend told a joke and it made me laugh.” Happiness will return to your life again. It just takes time and “working through the grief of letting go.”

Don’t isolate yourself after trauma. Find ways to break the isolation. When people invite you to an intimate talk about your feelings. Talk, but only if you feel comfortable with the people you are talking to. One of the most common things about grief, loss, and adversity is silence. Break the silence!

Give up the three P’s that stunt recovery. Personalization, Pervasiveness, and Permanence. The first is Personalization and that has to do with the belief that we are at fault for our losses. We have to let that go of that idea. The second is Pervasiveness. Pervasiveness is the belief that the event will affect all areas of your life. This has to do with the notion of an achieved type of dystopia going on in every aspect of your life. This isn’t true. Even though a lot may have gone wrong, there are still a lot of positive things around you. You have to give yourself permission to notice them. The third is Permanence. Permanence has to do with the notion that the shock of the event is static and that you will be suspended in grief and mourning for all eternity. This is simply not true either. Even though what you are experiencing may feel quiet painful, it will not last forever. Nothing ever does. Life is dynamic and constantly influx.

“We all encounter hardships. Some we see coming; others take us by surprise. It can be as tragic as the sudden death of a child, as heartbreaking as a relationship that unravels, or as disappointing as a dream that goes unfulfilled. The question is: When these things happen, what do we do next?”

Resilience is the strength and speed of our response to adversity, and it is something we can build. Recovery does not start from the same place for everyone. Adversity is not evenly distributed among groups; marginalized and disenfranchised groups have more to battle and more to grieve, but recovery is always possible. People believe that achieving things will make them happier and more resilient like, landing that new job, or purchasing a new car, even moving into a new neighborhood or bigger house. But psychologists show that happiness is found in the small things we do. Resilience starts with our capacity to want to recover and by taking the steps necessary to become more resilient like, finding a psychologist to help us through the loss, maintaining close ties with our family and friends, even maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle means; eating healthy, getting plenty of exercise, drinking plenty of water and clear liquids, making sure you get eight glasses of water a day, make sure you are well rested getting eight hours of sleep each night, avoid alcoholic drinks and doing drugs, avoid excessive intake of caffeine, and find or maintain a spiritual capacity to practice a faith; that is a big part of a person resilience. Some people opt for yoga, but all these elements play an integral part in a person’s resilience. If you find yourself sleeping a lot or feeling depressed all the time, even weeks after the initial loss, you may want to speak with your doctor. A mild anti-depressant may be required.

Talking about how to find strength in the face of hardship does not release us from the responsibility of working to prevent hardship in the first place. What we do in our communities and companies – the public policies we put in place, the ways we help one another – can ensure that fewer people suffer.

It is possible to experience post-traumatic growth. In the wake of crushing blows you can find greater strength and deeper meaning. By taking a pro-active roll in building your resilience, it may even be possible to experience pre-traumatic growth, and you don’t have to go through a tragedy to build your resilience. Making small and subtle changes in your lifestyle can help you build your resilience to adversity.

Once the fog of the acute grief has lifted, you may be capable of starting to experience your life again. When this happens, you might want to try something new. Something you never done before. Something that may help to bring meaning to your life and assuage the remaining hurt. Maybe start an exercise program or research a spirituality that will help you to maintain your center. Whatever it is you choose, just keep doing it if it provides you with a positive outcome. Some choose to start a public awareness campaign and create new policies in their community. For example, reducing the speed limit in an area that may be prone to high rates of accidents.

History is filled with recollections of past events. These archives are a testament to “why we remember.” Time marks the passage of our lives in minutes, hours, days, months, and years. We can never get them back, but we can remember. In the words of Mitch Albom, “We all yearn for what we have lost. But sometimes, we forget what we have.. . . .With endless time, nothing is special. With no loss or sacrifice, we can‘t appreciate what we have.”

Comparative Music Literature


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