Ask Golden Willow

Transitions include the natural grief process

By Ted Wiard
For The Taos News
Posted 1/3/19

Dear Dr. Ted: Happy New Year! I appreciate your articles and am grateful to the Taos News for being willing to include space for thought-provoking insights into personal and community emotional healing

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Ask Golden Willow

Transitions include the natural grief process

Posted

Dear Dr. Ted: Happy New Year! I appreciate your articles and am grateful to the Taos News for being willing to include space for thought-provoking insights into personal and community emotional healing. As I move into this new year, I realize I made some decisions this last year that forced me to make changes in my life. These changes are for the good, yet I felt a level of sadness and loneliness within my life that surprised me. One of my changes was leaving my job that I had for a long time to pursue a lifelong dream. I am very busy as I’m back in school and enjoying this new pursuit, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have a small dark cloud that hasn’t gone away. Let’s see what you do with that Doc! Thanks, Don

Dear Don, Blessings on New Year’s as well, and I wish you well on your pursuit for a lifetime goal.

Thank you for reading the Taos News as well as this article and presenting the topic for this week. Change is inevitable and seems to be more prominent, and in the collective consciousness, as you step into a new year. This is probably due to the chronological benchmark of the chance to change some behaviors or lifestyles that no longer serve you to the level that you wish. Whenever you experience change, a natural grief process follows.

Sometimes this grief process may be subtle and unrecognizable and other times, profound and overbearing. The change may be positive or feel heartbreakingly sad.

Either way you are in a process of redefining yourself, and this process is called grief, in which you bridge your historical experiences with where you are today. This redefining bridge is built through the grief phases of denial/insulation, anger/protest, bargaining/cognitive understanding, depression/melancholy and acceptance of the present situation.

Any person will habitualize parts of their life, such as when you get up, brush your teeth, go to work, say hello to friends and colleagues, have lunch and so on. When there are shifts in these rituals, your nervous system recognizes there is a loss of your regular routine.

This initiates the grief process, and you start to build new rituals to help the brain feel safe and calm down levels of anxiety due to the unknown. Many people will feel this during an exciting and happy event, such as a vacation, during which they may experience irritability or sadness for a couple of days until their system “normalizes” the present situation.

Recognizing and acknowledging that change set off part of the grief process can allow you to gently shift into your new reality while honoring the past. As life starts to seep into the present moment, the conscious or unconscious longing for how you used to do your life will diminish. Recognizing the past, but not having it define and confine you, can allow you to glean wisdom to help you in your new adventures. May 2019 bring more and more wisdom to us all!

Thank you for the question. I wish you well. Until next week, take care.

Golden Willow Retreat is a nonprofit organization focused on emotional healing and recovery from any type of loss. Direct any questions to Dr. Ted Wiard, EdD, LPCC, CGC, Founder of Golden Willow Retreat at GWR@newmex.com.

This column seeks to help educate our community about emotional healing through grief. People may write questions to Golden Willow Retreat and they will be answered privately to you and possibly as a future article for others. Please list a first name that grants permission for printing.

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