Grief: What NOT To Do
It’s the end of the year. If you’re grieving and/or missing someone – through death or divorce – feelings of loss will hit you harder during this time of year. Also, many souls choose to die toward the end of the year. For several reasons (covered later in a new blogpost).
This list of “What NOT To Do” created to help those who fall into such "grief" despair that their intuition fails them, they listen to too many people or they just feel so lost, they’re not sure what to do next.
You may know that I lost my mother 1 year ago (November 11, 2017) to cancer. She was the last person in my immediate family to leave this Earthly plane. In 1988, my older brother & younger sister were murdered during a robbery. In 2016, my father died of pneumonia.
Many years ago, post-1988, I was a grief counselor. This year, since my mother’s death? I forgot all the rules. Still suffering the consequences of that. From November 2017 until now. Since she died, I've questioned everything. Every relationship-friendship I have. Every decision I made my entire life. My spiritual beliefs about God, reincarnation, Spirit Realm, and even questioned my faith in my psychic-medium abilities (Psychic-Channel since 1989; Full Time Practice in Sedona since 2009).
All things I held dear for decades; beliefs that kept me happy & balanced - I questioned. Why? Once my mom died, I became the very last remnant of a family that once lived. Being the sole representative of my family on Earth. Talk about soul-searching! Identity crisis and no roots. Made several mistakes this year - many I cannot change. That's how this "Don't" List got created. Please don't make same mistakes I did. Please!
My grief from losing my siblings in 1988 was far different than 2016 grief losing my dad, whom I was closest to. Losing my mother last year - far different grief than previous times. It made me realize: we grieve differently each time we lose someone. And...you're never truly prepared to lose someone until it happens. Every time you lose a loved one, your grief will be different. Some things will be similar, but each time is different. You are different; the person you lost is different; your relationship to them is different; the circumstances are different.
There are some Golden Rules about Grief. See previous blog post “Grief Rules”. And there are some "Don'ts". Below you will find “The Don'ts!”
1988: Losing my only brother & sister felt like a tsunami hit my world, erasing everything – trust in people, trust in our society, pain of losing my best friends, watching my parents in gut-wrenching pain, feeling completely alone in the world. Knowing my brother & sister had no future anymore – when they were so young (26 and 22), leaving spouses and children. Survivor’s Guilt and PTSD also played a huge role in grieving Mark and Kara’s deaths. It was very difficult living without them - for several years.
2016 and 2017: losing my dad then mom – grieving felt like Hurricane Harvey that hit Houston last year and stayed almost 7 days. I was their caregiver before their deaths. Constant rain, no light of day, floods, worry about the dam bursting and your house flooding. That’s how it feels like to be a caregiver for your parents, siblings or spouse. You worry every day. You fix emergencies every day. Glad and proud to play that role. But it’s stressful: “Hurry here, investigate there, don’t forget this, call and ask about that”. (Read Previous Blog “Tips for Caregivers”) Rewarding, non-stop action and necessary. You’re that person’s everything: therapist, financial advisor, patient advocate, cheerleader. Being their son, daughter or wife is secondary. As stressful as those months were, I regret nothing about helping them. Wish they were still here.
No one is ever prepared for death of a loved one. No one. If you’re their caregiver and they die, you’re exhausted and don’t know how to feel after they die. You're still in "let's go & do" mode, then your gears switch to "shock" mode. You also just want to sleep and let other people take care of things like funeral arrangements, Social Security stuff, tax stuff, assets, etc. Your caregiver “let’s go & do” momentum doesn’t slow down until weeks after their funeral. You still have so much "to do" - you cannot FEEL their loss until every detail is complete. That's Caregiver Grief - feels weird and complicated. You wish they were still here. You feel lost and all alone.
Moms are special, whether we have a good relationship with them or not – losing our moms is just plain tough. We’re connected to them more deeply. Honor your feelings. Don’t make sudden life-altering decisions. Even if it feels “right” at the time, give yourself a little more time to digest your decisions. Grief comes in waves. Accept that. Accept who you are during the entire process.
Grief Rules: What NOT To Do
Rule #1. Don’t change your life in ways you cannot “change back." Don’t make major changes to your life for at least 12 months. You’re under enough stress, whether you know it or not. You’re emotionally, physically, spiritually & mentally vulnerable. You're not operating on “full throttle” as you normally operate. Give yourself time to adjust living life without your loved one. Whatever major changes you want to make, will be available in 10-12 months. Just wait.
Rule #2: Don’t sell your house or your loved one’s house. Don't sell or trade any investments the first year. Major investment decisions can wait. 12 months.
Rule #3. Don’t start a new relationship in first 12 months. Especially if your spouse died. If you’re unmarried, divorced, single and a loved one dies, date but don’t move into a new relationship first 12 months. I tried a new relationship 2 months before my mom died. He was wonderful the day she died, at the funeral, during the holidays. However, you will have emotional swings or feel off-balanced that first year. You won’t show him/her your true self. Also, new people don’t know you. Starting anything new takes effort, time, patience and paying attention to them and their needs, reactions. You don’t have enough strength or energy for that. Give it time. Date. Don’t get married (unless you planned it long before loved one’s death). Don’t move in with a new person.
Rule #4. Don’t rekindle a past romantic relationship during first 10-12 months. Familiarity is wonderful. Running to an “ex” is completely normal and necessary – you need stability. You crave it. Just don’t expect an old flame to change nor be what you want him/her to be. Leopards don’t change their spots. If you’re simply companions: going places together, asking for help, crying on their shoulder – that is fine. Rekindling, reconnecting in a renewed romantic relationship: wait 12 months. Walk slow with an “ex.” Be friends. Don’t expect any more.
Rule #5. Don’t change careers. Unless you were in process of doing this, it is not advisable. New career, new surroundings, new people will sound wonderful, but it’s also a major change. Wait 10-12 months before stepping into a new job, new career, new surroundings. You need stability and familiar. Even if you disliked your job or career before grief process, before losing your loved one – keep the same job, career for a while. Any change will feel uncomfortable after the first month of grief.
Rule #6. Don’t sell all your belongings. Store them if you want. Don’t sell or give them away. Many people may advise you “start fresh. Clean slate your life. Travel, get rid of everything. Feel free!” That’s not good advice after losing a loved one. You need roots, stability, familiarity. Don’t sell your stuff. Store it. Sure, travel for a while if you can. Get your bearings. Soul-search. Just don’t sell or give away your belongings. Months later, you may need familiar things around you. To ground you. To remind you who you are, what you’ve done. Of course “things” are not important. However, during grief process, things can be very important. They symbolize familiar. They ground and root you. Familiar surroundings, familiar things, memories connected to “things” is helpful during grief.
Rule #7. Don’t have major surgery first 12 months after losing someone you love. Your immune system is low – very low. Recovery from major surgery, where a surgeon cuts you (includes plastic surgery) requires a bolstered immune system and emotional support system – on your best day. Adding stress during your grief will compound stress and sidestep your grief. It’s a distraction. If you’re diagnosed with cancer or some disease that requires surgery, wait as long as possible before having surgery. Surgery recovery will last longer when you’re grieving. Your emotions are also very raw. Surgery creates body trauma. And you’re experiencing grief trauma: emotional, spiritual, mental, physical off-balance. Wait for surgery later, if you can. Wait 12 months.
Rule #8. Don’t expect too much from you. This is crucial. You won’t think as fast as usual. Your mental, logical abilities are impaired. Your emotions are raw most days. Your spiritual body wants to slow down too. Take it easy. Understand that you cannot walk through life with same stamina that you normally have. Be gentle and easy with you. Don’t judge yourself. Don’t judge your feelings. Express them out.
Rule #9: Don’t expect too much from others, even family members. Everyone grieves differently. Which means everyone reacts differently, when they’re grieving. Don’t expect your family members or friends, who know you and loved one, to experience same pain in same sequence as you. Also, don’t expect friends or family to understand you or know what to do – when you’re emotional. Give yourself the freedom to feel whatever you feel. Honor the same in others. Lowering your expectations of people while you grieve will eliminate unnecessary drama and stress. You’re not yourself. If others around you are also grieving, they’re not themselves either.
Rule #10. Don’t move homes. Even if you planned a move 1-3 months before. Wait. Wait 6-12 months before moving. Whether the move is 10 miles or 1000 miles away. It will emotionally unsettle you. You’re already off-balanced, trying to understand where you fit, what your next step is. Moving will add more stress. Even if you think you can handle it – wait. Give your emotional, physical, spiritual, mental bodies time to process everything. Disclaimer: If you moved for your loved one and moving back “home”, where an established home already exists, moving back home is good.
Rule #11. Don’t make major life-altering decisions the first 12 months after your loved one dies. It deserves repeating. Grief process may create a feeling of “I need a change! I need to move forward! I need a new life, new home.” Grief comes in waves. You might feel that way today. Chances are, you won’t feel that way next month.
Keep your life simple. Keep it the same. Unless you changed your life to care for your loved one, stepping out of your comfort zone to help them temporarily. Even with that said, keeping your life “the same” after losing someone you love is still best. Reduces your stress level. Helps you move through grief easier. No sudden moves.
If you make too many changes during first 12 months, it deflects from your emotional emptiness, prolongs your emotional, spiritual, mental growth and balance. Changing your life significantly may feel right, but wait 12 months. Your brain doesn’t work as well as it usually does. Especially if you lost a spouse, parent, sibling or child. Give yourself time to adjust.
This past year, sold my Houston house at a 15% discount. A house I loved since bought it in 2004. Sold all my household belongings at 70% discount. Sold my car I loved since buying it in 2001. Bought a newer car. Had skin cancer surgeries on my hand and face. The deep, long cuts on my face, (2 surgeries on face; 1 surgery on hand) took months to heal. Recoveries from all surgeries were arduous and difficult. Moved back to Sedona mid-July. Into a new house that has problems every week. I chose the wrong house. Grief clouds your judgment. Sold my belongings, needed to buy new. Took 3 months & cost more for less quality. Pre-grief days? Would have taken 1 month at most.
Grief causes you to move slow. In every way. People around you won't recognize that. Advice from friends & some family: "sell everything, buy new" was bad advice. But they didn't know. They assumed I was the same person I've always been. They assumed my inner strength was same. It wasn't. When I had issues and asked for help, friends said "you're tough, you can do it alone." Truth: I couldn't. Rarely asked for help last few decades. Needed help after my last family member died. Just the simple, unadulterated truth.
I wasn't the same person. I needed help. Needed anchoring. Needed help in every area. Rarely got it. They all assumed I was same. I wasn't. Needed help with Houston contractors. Help with returning new car I didn't like. Help with grocery shopping. Help with common daily tasks. Help with surgeries. I needed help! Everyone knew me as self-sufficient last 30 years. Not this year. I needed help.
The newer car I bought? I wanted to return it on Day 3. Dealership wouldn't allow it. Friends didn't help me fight that. "You can do it!" I couldn't. New car in shop 11 times last 11 months. My 2002 car that I bought new 2001? Sold this year (2018)? In shop 4 times in 17 years.
The Houston-Sedona move, done before and usually easy, was fraught with problems and arguments with movers and house landlord. Skin cancer surgeries could have waited. Until my body immune system was better. Selling house & belongings could have waited. Until I saw more clearly; was "back to me." House was familiar. I needed familiar. I cried days before and days after selling it. Still regret selling it, but it's done and you move on. Into the "new normal."
Grief clouded everything: mental, emotional, spiritual. I was vulnerable to "grief predators", vulnerable in every day life, afraid, tired, exhausted, emotionally raw, severely and clinically depressed, unmotivated, foggy-headed, off-balanced, angry sometimes, rage waves. People who know me could not see that. "You can do it!" That was not help. Just now, since November 11, 2017, am I waking up and reclaiming "me" again. This was the 3rd and final time to experience grief. It was the worst one. Often spoke with my Angels "can I leave Earth now? It's too complicated and stressful. When does the fun or peace begin?" Not suicidal, simply asking for their help. Oftentimes, they were silent. Or they gave me pep-talks. I needed lots of that. Never understood the true definition of vulnerability, clinical depression and utter loneliness: until this year.
As a professional psychic, I communicate with my Loved Ones and clients’ Loved Ones. Since I was 5 years old. However, talking, sensing, hearing them does not relieve all the pain of losing them; their absence from your daily life anchored you. Communicating helps a bunch. But we still must feel, process, release the sadness of their absence. Your sadness and emotional upheaval are equal to the love you had for them. You don’t have to prove your love by being a basket-case (as I was). Feel the pain. Recall the memories. Let your emotions flow and your thoughts flow wherever they go. Let the waves move through you. Don’t stuff it. No matter what you feel, feel it. Apologize to people later. If they don’t understand, they’re not meant to be in your life. Yes, life is that simple!
May You Find Peace this Christmas Season ---
Robin Amanda, The Sedona Spirit Psychic
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