You did it-you got through the Holidays. Now what?

We all knew it was coming. We stayed busy and avoided the mushy movies, the malls, the parties and the all-knowing-“you should get a hobby”-well-wishing relatives, right? So what is next? Spring. Ah, the time of year when the sweet smell of flowers and the kiss of warm air rushes by us, teasing young lovers out into the open where we must be a witness to loves rebirth (insert sound of phonograph needle scratching across a new record). There will be wedding invitations if we are lucky, parties to slim down for and the warmth of summer to look forward to. However, grief will not take a break so that it all can be easily enjoyed. Instead, we need to make a plan. Yes, a grief plan.

Grief plans are unique to every individual and are well thought out maps to navigating your new normal life. Eventually, you will not have to rely on them, but for now when the grief is still so raw that you are avoiding what you feel may be uncomfortable situations, then they can be a very useful lifeline. You can plan out your months, weeks or days and actually schedule your own grief time. Whether it’s alone time to pray or think about your loved one, or plan a monument or vacation to celebrate their memory, planning for grief is important. This is not to say that you won’t still have moments of gripping sadness or sleepless nights, you most certainly will. But if you plan for positivity, then the negativity will have less room in your schedule.

To begin, simply make a list of what you would like to accomplish, for example in workable two-three month increments. Make these your long-term goals and make sure they are actually doable and measurable so you can track your progress. Also make a list of things you still are uncomfortable doing, like going to parties, movies or even out to eat alone. Cross off the things you no longer care about and make what is left your short-term goals. Things you can easily accomplish in a week. Keep a journal and also jot down your feelings as you progress. Are you finding yourself happier? Sadder? More energized? This can help you realize what makes you the happiest so you can do them more often.

Keeping a journal is so important because our brains get muddled and it’s difficult to see how much progress we have made without one. They can be messy, hard to read, have scribbles and unconnected thoughts, or they can be precise with excellent penmanship (although I have never seen one that is)! The journal will become the roadmap of your soul’s journey. It will be freeing to get all that chatter out of your head and on to paper and so healing to look back and see just how strong you have become. Good luck.

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Action Oriented Grieving: Putting how you feel into words can help you (1) connect your behaviors in that moment to your feelings, and (2) help you create a new action plan going forward.

This doesn’t mean that you’re trying to stop your grief. You are just channeling that restless energy into making positive improvements in your life, and journaling can be helpful to that important step in your growth. This wheel can help you put into words how you are feeling and whether a certain behavior brought those feelings to light. For instance, if you were out enjoying a few cocktails with friends and suddenly felt overwhelming sadness because seeing all the happy couples enjoying each other made you cry and you could not explain it to your friends, this wheel can help. If you find SAD in the center, you most likely are experiencing one or more of the middle feelings which brought you to one or more of the outer reasons. Journaling this will help you remember how this activity made you feel and in the future could serve as a reminder to you. It also helps to go back and read those entries to see your healing progress.

Helps you find the right words to describe what you are feeling
Feelings Wheel.com

Putting action-oriented grieving to work also may include harnessing that restless energy that we have from grief into making positive impacts for others and more positive improvements toward healing. Directing your energy by providing support to others who are grieving, or by creating a memorial for your loved one or even by advocating for a cause you believe in will inspire others and are all examples of action-oriented grieving.

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