When a workplace fatality, serious injury or disease happens, the old “normal” life is gone, and it won’t be coming back. When will life feel normal again? What will this “new normal” look like, and how will you get there? Following is an excerpt from Audrey Stringer’s book Scaling the Mountain of Grief in which she outlines five steps to work through the challenges and develop a new equilibrium.

Audrey’s Five ‘A’s

My foundation for scaling the mountain of grief consists of what I call Audrey’s Five ‘A’s. They will help you overcome what I went through and you are no doubt going through in the wake of the loss of your loved one: losses of self, identity, joy, meaning and self-confidence; changes in health, personality and lifestyle; and for some of us, challenges with our physical, emotional and financial lives. These are but a few of the things we can find ourselves confronting in the aftermath, and these are the Five ‘A’s that will help steer you through turbulent times.

  1. Acknowledge the death of your loved one. That is, say the word “died”. Don’t avoid discussing it and don’t use euphemisms to try to talk around it or soften the blow. Your loved one died. Acknowledge that.
  2. Acclimatize yourself to the deep feelings of grief and mourning. Accept that pain is a part of your loss journey. If you push against the pain, your journey will be more difficult. Accept and go with your feelings of loss.
  3. Assimilate your new life. Learn to pick up the pieces and rebuild it without your loved one. This process is often done in baby steps and always in your unique time frame.
  4. Accept that you will be forever changed by the death of your loved one. You will never get over your loss, but in time you will gradually learn to live without your loved one and go on the journey of developing a “new normal” without him or her.
  5. Affirm the life you lived before and find yourself living now. Through affirmations, you will be able to flourish, rebuilding and reshaping who you are as a person. Consciously plan to live life again to the fullest, with your loved one in your heart but not at your side.

-from Scaling the Mountain of Grief: Creating a New Normal through Loss and Healing, 2011

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Silhouette of climber.
Audrey Stringer

Audrey Stringer

Audrey Stringer is a bereavement counsellor and favourite facilitator at Threads of Life’s annual family forums. Her latest book is Buddy’s Life Lessons. www.astringofhope.com
Audrey Stringer
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