Coping with Grief and Loss: Why Being Strong, Keeping Busy Won’t Work

Source: Press release “Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry _______.” If you’re like most people, you’re conditioned to automatically respond with “alone.” Here’s another one: “The way to get through grief is to just keep _____.” Did “busy” come to mind? If you’ve suffered a devastating loss such as death of a loved one, divorce or breakup, you may be trying to cope by these and other unspoken rules. These types of phrases are almost automatic responses. They are pieces of information stored in our belief systems from childhood. Trouble is, the information was not helpful or accurate, according to Jeff Zhorne, Grief Recovery specialist. “Be grateful,” “Be strong” or “Get your mind off yourself” simply appeal to the intellect or offer advice. So we wind up burying the pain and isolating. We shut the blinds, order in food and pop on Netflix.  Some begin to cut themselves off from other people. “At work we fake it and act like everything is all right,” Zhorne explained. “We put on our happy faces because society gives us about three days to grieve and we’d better be back to work on the fourth day. Later, we hear things like, ‘It’s been a year, aren’t you over it by now?’ ” Zhorne says the buried pain of unresolved loss is very real, has energy and doesn’t go away on its own. “Unresolved grief affects you negatively, sooner or later,” he said. It will make itself known when you least expect it. “Reactions become disproportionate to circumstances. A driver cuts you off on the freeway and you want to break his neck.” He continued: “People can continue to stuff the feelings, shove them away or distract themselves until these losses become an ever-growing weight being carried around.” Zhorne is familiar with grief and tragedy. While vacationing in England in 1991, Zhorne’s two children, ages 4 and 2, died in an auto accident. “It was horrifying, I was utterly helpless, I didn’t know where to turn,” he recounted. “I came to the point where I had to recover or die.”
Jeff Zhorne
What he found in Grief Recovery was a way to finish the unfinished emotional pain and end the isolation and emptiness. Zhorne said recovery starts by being able to freely express all the thoughts and emotions connected with loss. “Maybe it’s regret, which is often associated with loss – wishing things had been different, better or more. Or maybe it’s grieving the loss of unrealized hopes, dreams and expectations.” If you are tired of temporary pain relief, tired of quenching in, and want to expand your life and relationships, Grief Recovery provides a way to finish unfinished emotional business and move beyond loss. It provides the correct tools. The Grief Program is offering a free community presentation on the tools and skills needed for working through significant emotional loss of any kind at 7 p.m., Thursday, May 24, at the Education Center, Christ Lutheran Church, 25816 N. Tournament Road. For more information, call The Grief Program at 661-733-0692.

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