Thursday, November 08, 2007

A Bill of Rights for the Bereaved

Facing the loss of a spouse or life-partner is heartbreaking because loving is all-encompassing; love took most of our emotional energy as we embraced our spouse or partner. We cared that they were fulfilled and well. We wanted to protect them and make them happy. We were devoted, so much so, that losing this loved one, feels crippling. And so, when they are gone, we need to learn how to transform this energy into something positive. Not a "substitute," but a conversion, from a "we" to an "I".

During this important journey, the first idea we need to fully embrace is that you, the mourner, have rights. What are they?

You have the right to express your grieving in your own way.

You have the right to know that grieving is slow, hard work and to move through it at your own pace.

You have the right to express your feelings about grief and to explore them.

You have the right to forgive yourself for the things you think you “should” have done or “might” have done and realize that what you did in that moment of time was based on the information at hand and that you did the best that you could with the knowledge you had.

You have the right to be yourself and to recognize your strengths and your limitations.

You have the right to participate actively in your mourning, to remember the past with fond memories and to allow yourself to enjoy your life again.

You have the right to move forward and to speak of your pain, whether that makes people uncomfortable or not.

You have the right to go back and forth in your grieving; some days making progress and other days slipping back.

You have a right to express your emotions and to have others bear witness to your story.

You have the right to believe that you will have a whole life again!

(c) 2007, THE HEALING POWER OF GRIEF: Transcending the Loss of a Spouse to Life and Laughter by Gloria Lintermans & Marilyn Stolzman, Ph.D., L.M.F.T. (Sourcebooks, Inc.) ISBN: 1-932783-48-2


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