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Optimal Thinking for Grief and Loss

Grief occurs when we experience a major loss. The excruciating pain of losing a loved one, whether spouse, child, parent or friend, can be the most severe suffering we ever endure. Feelings such as anger, hurt, dismay, emptiness, sadness, devastation, and helplessness are evoked. The pain can be all consuming, overwhelming and incapacitating. Although transient, grief is agonizing.

In her book On Death and Dying, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross identifies the following natural stages of the grieving process:

1. Denial (Nature's way of protecting us from being overwhelmed by the magnitude of our loss.)
2. Anger (It's unfair. Why me/us, why now? Anger informs us that our personal sanctum has been violated.)
3. Remorse (If I/we had not done this, maybe things would be different.)
4. Depression (Helplessness and surrender.)
5. Acceptance (This is the way it is. I will accept and make the best of it.)

When you lose a loved one, many of your hopes, dreams, expectations and desires are shattered. Similarly, when an important troublesome relationship is terminated, your hopes and dreams of resolution are crushed. When you suffer such losses, it is in your best interest to identify and complete the undelivered emotional communications that keep you feeling victimized by hurtful, negative memories. Contained within the unspoken messages are multitudinous feelings including joy, sadness, love, fear, anger, relief and compassion. Give yourself permission to mourn and complete your relationship to the person as well as your relationship with the pain you create when you think about the person. Allow yourself to mourn and complete your unmet hopes, dreams and expectations in your own time. This is how you will restore your peace of mind, vitality and happiness.

Here are some questions for you to consider:

Which hopes, expectations, and dreams have been shattered?
What am I thinking or doing that is causing me to feel pain in the present moment?
What do I need to express to feel I have communicated everything to those involved?
What is the best means of expressing my thoughts and feelings?
What are other ways I can fulfill my hopes, dreams and expectations?
What are the most nurturing actions I can take for myself?
What is the best thing I can do to take control of my life?

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