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Change is the only constant in our lives. We are never prepared, no matter how prepared we think we are, for loss and change. Until we are facing loss and change only then can we relate. To be honest, the only person who likes change is a wet baby. To move on from loss and change, we have to bite the bullet and embrace the pain, rather than push away, ignoring or self-medicating with alcohol, drugs or promiscuous behaviour. To use the analogy of swimming in the ocean, if you fight the waves you will get sucked down in the undertow. But if you ride the waves, you will be okay.

For us to develop resilience, we have to choose to be a survivor, not a victim of our circumstance. It is important to practise gratitude but more important, acknowledge your feelings of pain and loss. Go within and reflect on how you coped with previous change and loss. Look to your family of origin, culture, world view and see how you were socialized. You may have had one family experience and learned to keep feelings in, buck up – a ‘suck it up’ family attitude. Was inter-generational trauma passed down to you? If so, learn about, reflect on, work with it and change it for next generation.

Let me tell you the dirty secret about grief and mourning! Grief and mourning loss doesn’t disappear in a couple of months like the wind. It is like a tornado, powerful and sometimes out of control; at other times calm but you don’t know and can’t predict when it is going to rear its ugly head and throw your life in a tail spin. We have to learn to name it, tame it, work with it, embrace and slowly let go.

The healthy response is you have to feel to heal. You have to enter into the pain of loss and change and eventually gently let it go. This is not a one-time event. Healing is individual and unique to each one of us like our thumbprint. When going through change and loss, you may experience a myriad of emotions, feelings and thoughts and often all in one minute. Acknowledging, releasing and accepting the good, bad and ugly is important to live a healthy and a happy life. It is important to have hope. Hope is when you grab onto and believe what is positive is yet to be. Sometimes change is threatening, difficult, fragile and yes, even exciting. Slow down and just be! Be at peace with yourself. This may take time and lots of energy. Keep a gratitude journal, turn off electronics, practise good self-care and reach out for support.

For healing to take place, we have to encompass body, mind and spirit strategies to move forward. It is important to practise good nutrition, exercise, and adequate rest and sleep. For me, believing in a higher power gave me strength and courage. Don’t be afraid to reach out and join a support group or start one. You will not heal if you grieve in isolation. Go for a nature walk and stay unplugged. Listen to the birds sing their joyful songs. Watch the children play, join a yoga/meditation group, learn a new language, take a vacation. Join a laughter yoga group to strengthen your immune system. Be conscious of surrounding yourself with uplifting people, especially when you feel like Debbie Downer. Place your worries in a surrender box. Let the universe take care of them. If you go to the past, don’t stay there. If you stray to the future, don’t worry … bring yourself back to the moment, for that is all we have. Don’t waste it.

Audrey is the author of Get Over It: Surviving Grief to Live Again, Scaling the Mountain of Grief: Creating a New Normal through Loss and Healing and Buddy’s Life Lessons: My Paw Prints on Grief and Loss. She is a frequent facilitator at Threads of Life family forums. You can connect with Audrey directly through her website www.astringofhope.com.

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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