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.